Boeing bets on huge trade expo in UK to boost blockbuster deals
Boeing is not waiting for July’s Farnborough International Airshow to unveil blockbuster aircraft deals — or start booking cash.
The Chicago-based aircraft maker is poised to bolster its backlog with orders valued at $14.4bn thanks to two transactions announced on Monday. That’s a break from an industry practice of stockpiling sales for the biggest annual trade expo, which alternates between Paris and Farnborough, outside London.
Bamboo Airways, a Vietnamese startup, signed a commitment for 20 of Boeing’s twin-aisle 787-9 Dreamliners, the companies said in a statement. That’s a deal of about $5.6bn before customary discounts. Earlier in the day, Jet Airways India announced it was purchasing 75 of Boeing’s 737 Max single-aisle planes, a transaction valued at $8.8bn based on list prices.
The two deals underscore the tilt of the aerospace market to Asia, where airlines are stocking up on aircraft to serve a rapidly expanding middle class. The orders also show that Boeing has access to a wider market in the region beyond China, where it could become an easy target if trade tension with the US escalates. Premier Li Keqiang said on Monday that the Asian giant was willing to step up co-operation with Airbus.
"While China is a big and important market, there are other markets in Asia that are in demand," said Shukor Yusof, founder of aviation consulting firm Endau Analytics in Malaysia. "Southeast Asia is a gold mine."
Bamboo Airways made a deposit in mid-June to reserve the carbon-composite Dreamliners, which are tentatively scheduled for delivery in 2020 and 2021. The carrier plans to begin commercial service next year from its base in Hanoi, Vietnam, flying first within the country before expanding to markets such as China, South Korea and Japan.
The latest purchase brings Jet’s backlog for the narrow-body plane to 225, the company said in a statement. The Mumbai-based airline had already placed two 75-aircraft orders, the most recent in April, with the first 737 Max delivery arriving last week.
Jet and its Indian rivals are expanding fleets as demand for domestic flights surges. Rival SpiceJet has ordered more than 200 single-aisle aircraft from Boeing, while market leader IndiGo, operated by InterGlobe Aviation, is the biggest customer for Airbus’s competing A320neo aircraft.
New sales are also important contributors to Boeing’s cash flow. Customers typically make small advance deposits, followed by large "progress" payments about 18-24 months ahead of an aircraft’s delivery as Boeing starts ordering equipment and cutting metal.
Such prepayments will generate about $5bn in cash for the Chicago-based aircraft maker this year, up from $4.5bn in 2017, David Strauss, an analyst with Barclays Capital, said in a research note. That would account for more than one-third of the $14bn in free cash that Boeing is expected to produce this year.
Boeing had netted 306 commercial aircraft orders as of May 31, according to its website.
With Kyunghee Park