Boeing Chases 737 Max Deals to Curb Airbus A320 Middle East Lead

Boeing Co., maker of the world’s most popular commercial aircraft, is confident to book sales of its new 737 Max single-aisle jet at the Dubai Air Show to trim Airbus SAS’s lead in the region for short-range planes.

The 737 Max, which will feature new engines to boost efficiency, may win new Middle East customers, Marty Bentrott, sales vice president for the Chicago-based planemaker, said today at a press conference in Dubai.

“We have a number of key opportunities we are focused on here in the region,” he said on the eve of the aviation expo.

Boeing, which has dominated long-range jet sales in the region with the 777-300ER twin-engine, last year secured an order for the 737 Max with a commitment from Kuwaiti lessor Alafco. Airbus, which has also placed its A320neo with the company, has a lead in single-aisle sales in the Middle East.

“We took our eye off the ball, especially on single aisles,” Bentrott said. “I believe with the Max and with our relationships with our customers we are going to improve the overall market share for the single-aisle here in the region.”

Most of the narrow-body sales efforts are now focused on the new model due from 2017, with the majority of the current 737s sold out. Select customers may still be able to get 737s before the Max becomes available to bridge operational gaps, Bentrott said.

Wide-Body Deals

Single-aisle orders are likely to be overshadowed at this year’s air show by deals for long-range jets, as Emirates, the world’s largest airline by international traffic, is set to place a major order for the new 777X Boeing is offering.

Bentrott said both the 400-seat 777-9X, due first, and the longer-range -8X will appeal to buyers in the region.

Emirates has been urging Boeing for design refinements to assure the new jet can go the maximum distance fully loaded even when taking off at high temperatures at the Dubai hub in the summer heat. Bentrott said Boeing has addressed those needs.

The Boeing representative also said he expects to secure the first deal for 787-10 Dreamliners in the region as the planemaker works on satisfying reliability concerns with the -8 model operated with Qatar Airways Ltd.

“We are making good progress” with engineers dispatched to the airline’s Doha base, Bentrott said. Dreamliner reliability should reach those associated with the popular 777 jet in about six months, he said.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.