Boeing Said to Win GE Jet Order as Aeromexico Nears Deal

Boeing Said to Win Order From GE Jet-Leasing Unit for 100 737s
Boeing is seeking more MAX buyers among aircraft lessors as it develops the fuel-efficient replacement for its top-selling 737. Source: Boeing Co. via Bloomberg

Boeing Co. is poised to win an order for 100 737 narrow-body aircraft from General Electric Co.’s jet-leasing unit, a boost in the U.S. company’s competition with Airbus SAS, two people with knowledge of the transaction said.

GE Capital Aviation Services’ purchase includes 75 upgraded 737 MAX planes, said the people, who asked not to be identified because they aren’t authorized to discuss the deal. The list value would be $9.25 billion based on prices for the 737-800, the current jet’s most-popular model, and its MAX equivalent.

“Lessors have raised cash in the past few months, and they’re going to use that to place orders,” said Yan Derocles, an Oddo Securities analyst in Paris. “They suffered a lot during the financial crisis and the likes of Gecas also expected more of a downturn in demand, so there’s a gap in orders for them to make up from the 2008-2010 period.”

The planned order comes as the Farnborough air show, the year’s highest-profile aerospace trade event, begins today near London. Grupo Aeromexico SAB is close to the purchase of about 70 mainly single-aisle jets, though that sale probably won’t be done during the expo, a person familiar with those talks said.

Aeromexico is considering Airbus SAS’s A320neo and some A350 wide-bodies, as well as the MAX and Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner, the person said. Boeing has the upper hand after Commercial Airplanes Chief Executive Officer Ray Conner sent a sales team to Mexico to secure the order, two other people said.

Lessor Orders

Boeing is seeking more MAX buyers among aircraft lessors such as Gecas as it develops the fuel-efficient MAX to replace its top-selling 737. Leasing companies place planes with multiple airlines, which would broaden the base for the MAX before its 2017 commercial debut.

While lessors represent about 35 percent of the installed airliner base, they account for only 20 percent or so of planemakers’ current backlog, said Derocles, who has a buy rating on Airbus parent European Aeronautic, Defence & Space Co.

Eric Jones, a Gecas spokesman, said the company doesn’t comment on speculation about orders, and Marc Birtel, a Boeing spokesman, declined to comment.

Global Fleet

Narrow-body planes form the bulk of the global airline fleet, and Airbus got an eight-month head start on the A320neo by unveiling it in December 2010. That set up a rout of Boeing at the Paris air show in June 2011 as the A320neo amassed hundreds of firm purchases and commitments, and it wasn’t until the following month that Boeing said it would offer the MAX.

Boeing has received 451 firm orders and hundreds more commitments for the 737 MAX, according to airlines’ announcements and the company’s website tally through June.

The MAX will be powered exclusively by new engines from CFM International, a joint venture between Fairfield, Connecticut-based GE and Paris-based Safran SA.

Aeromexico would consider splitting its plane order between Boeing and Airbus, one person said. Negotiations are continuing, the person said.

Spokesmen for Toulouse, France-based Airbus and Boeing declined to comment about the pending purchase from Aeromexico, Mexico’s largest airline. Calls and e-mails to the Aeromexico’s investor relations offices in Mexico City seeking comment yesterday weren’t returned.

An order of 70 aircraft would be valued at about $6.66 billion, based on the $95.2 million price tag of the 737 MAX 8. Customers typically buy airliners at a discount. The 787-8 has a list price of $193.5 million.

Aeromexico sold shares to the public last year, and the carrier has arranged financing to expand its fleet. The company said last month it has received $171 million in financing from the Export-Import Bank to finance three 737s.

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