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Air Lease Talks With Boeing to Explore Orders for 737 MAX Jet

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May 2 (Bloomberg) -- Air Lease Corp., the aircraft lessor formed in 2010 by industry veteran Steven Udvar-Hazy, is in talks with Boeing Co. about buying the planemaker’s 737 MAX jet with upgraded engines.

“These are discussions only,” Air Lease’s president and co-founder, John Plueger, said in an e-mailed response to questions, without giving specifics on how many planes the Los Angeles-based company might want.

A deal with a lessor would broaden Boeing’s customer base for the MAX, the latest version of the top-selling 737. All three confirmed orders for the plane, which features upgraded, more-efficient engines, are from airlines, according to Chicago-based Boeing’s website.

Boeing committed in August to offer the variant of its top-selling 737 to match the A320neo from Airbus SAS, which unveiled its newest model in December 2010. The MAX’s 451 firm orders trailed the 1,289 amassed for the A320neo through March.

The MAX’s list price ranges from $95.2 million to $101.7 million, depending on the version, according to Boeing’s website, while the A320neo’s catalog price is $96.7 million. Airlines typically buy at a discount.

A Boeing spokesman, Marc Birtel, said the company doesn’t comment on discussions with customers.

The Wall Street Journal, citing two people it didn’t identify, reported this week that Air Lease was considering a purchase of 60 MAX jets. Air Lease signed a memo of understanding to buy as many as 50 A320neos, including 14 options, in June. It hasn’t reached a firm purchase agreement.

To contact the reporter on this story: Andrea Rothman in Paris at aerothman@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Ed Dufner at edufner@bloomberg.net; Benedikt Kammel at bkammel@bloomberg.net

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