[PARIS] Boeing Co pulled in the biggest deal so far at the Paris Air Show, a US$10.7 billion order, as the expo's focus shifted to the competition with Airbus Group SE in selling single-aisle jets.
AerCap Holdings NV agreed on Tuesday to buy 100 of Boeing's 737 Max 8 planes, the upgraded version of the company's top- selling model. The aircraft are the first Maxes for the Netherlands-based lessor, which has already bought Airbus's A320neo, a rival to Boeing's offering.
The accord marked the biggest Paris transaction yet by numbers and value, as both manufacturers seek to maintain their momentum and unveil more sales in the coming days. Based on list prices, Boeing orders and commitments reached US$29.6 billion, topping Airbus's US$16.4 billion, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
"This is a big day for us, it's a real highlight of the show," said Ray Conner, the head of Boeing's commercial aircraft unit.
After twin-aisle orders took the spotlight Monday as the expo opened, the AerCap purchase swung attention back to the narrow-body segment, the heart of the global jetliner market. That niche has been a strength for Airbus, whose A320neo will debut in 2015, ahead of the Max's 2017 entry into service.
AerCap's deal with Boeing alone outstripped the 97 single- aisle sales logged by Toulouse, France-based Airbus as of Tuesday afternoon in Paris, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Boeing's haul stood at 140.
Aercap Chief Executive Officer Aengus Kelly said the deal came together in the final days before the show, with Boeing telling the lessor that it wanted to "make this happen." Aercap is also interested in the larger 737 MAX 9 to help replace aging models in its fleet, Kelly said in an interview after the signing.
Boeing also announced another purchase agreement for the 737 MAX 8 on the second day, for 10 units by SMBC Aviation Capital.
Emerging-market carriers including PT Garuda Indonesia, Saudi Arabian Airlines and Qatar Airways Ltd went shopping Monday for long-haul jets, a sign of faster travel growth in those regions than elsewhere. Heading into the Paris expo, analysts had played down wide-body sales prospects for Airbus and Chicago-based Boeing.