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Airbus seizes on Boeing MAX ban with flurry of Asia orders
[SINGAPORE] Airbus SE has taken orders for more than 350 planes in Asia since August, streaks ahead of rival Boeing Co as the US planemaker struggles to revive its grounded 737 MAX.
A big win for Airbus came last month, when Indian budget carrier IndiGo ordered 300 narrow-body aircraft in a deal worth more than US$33 billion at list prices. VietJet Aviation JSC and Cebu Air Inc also confirmed purchases in recent days. Boeing received orders or commitments for only 16 jets in the past three months, according to the Chicago-based company's website.
Airbus orders are for A320neo and wide-body A330neo aircraft, while Boeing's are for twin-aisle 787s and 777 freighters. Boeing is in the throes of crisis following two deadly crashes of its 737 MAX, including a Lion Air flight in October 2018 that plunged into the Java Sea, killing all 189 people on board.
Boeing has been upgrading software on the 737 MAX, but it remains unclear when it will be allowed to fly again. In an Oct 29 article in USA Today, the Federal Aviation Administration's Steve Dickson reiterated that the agency is addressing crash investigator recommendations and won't be hurried as to "when, whether or how the 737 MAX will return to service".
Airbus hasn't had it all plain sailing. India is threatening to ground A320neo jets operated by IndiGo unless the airline gets fixes for its Pratt & Whitney engines by Jan 31. IndiGo, which has close to 100 A320neo-family jets and is adding more at a rapid clip, said last week it will work with the engine maker and Airbus so it has enough modified spare turbines to meet the requirement.
The European plane manufacturer also cut its full-year delivery target and said cash flow will be lower than expected as production challenges slow output of A320neos. Chief executive officer Guillaume Faury said US import duties on foreign-built Airbus jets will become tougher to manage next year. He suggested that a World Trade Organization ruling allowing the European Union to impose similar measures on Boeing would help level the playing field.
Historically, Airbus is still behind Boeing in deliveries of aircraft to Asia-Pacific customers, with a total of 3,312 versus 5,045 for the US manufacturer, according to the companies' websites.