Paris Orders Recast Airliner Battlefield

Jun 27, 2011

By Robert Wall, Joseph C. Anselmo, Jens Flottau, Guy Norris
Le Bourget

A week of massive order intake has aircraft makers wondering how much further and faster they need to ramp up production to meet demand. But it also raises strategic product policy concerns for some, including Boeing, which is grappling with whether to re-engine the 737 or launch the New Small Airplane (NSA).

The scale of the business deals brought to the market is staggering. Airbus secured more than 660 orders for its A320NEO (new engine option) family, driving its six-month order total since program launch to more than 1,020 aircraft. This year was “the best air show ever for Airbus in terms of aircraft numbers sold,” says Tom Enders, Airbus CEO. Most of the 730 deals are firm orders, he says, valued at over $73 billion. “I was pretty much amazed that we sold that many aircraft here,” Enders says of the NEO.

The U.S. airframer, meanwhile, beat Airbus in widebody orders, securing deals for 19 Boeing 747-8s, 27 777s, four 787s and one 767. The company booked $22 billion in commercial aircraft deals.

And it was not just Airbus and Boeing that secured large numbers—Embraer took orders for more than 60 aircraft. That has Frederico Curado, Embraer’s CEO, saying a production ramp-up is under consideration, although it will depend on how much the orderbook grows in the second half of this year.

Still, Airbus’s NEO order surge has left an impression on airlines and industry observers and raised the stakes for Boeing to make a narrowbody strategy decision. The U.S. aircraft manufacturer has said a Boeing 737 replacement or upgrade choice will be made by year-end. But Boeing is receiving mixed signals from the increasingly important lessor market about which path to take. Air Lease Corp. CEO Steven Udvar-Hazy, one of the commercial aircraft industry’s most influential buyers, is urging it to pursue an all-new design. “Boeing needs to show leadership,” he says. “My feelings are heavily biased toward a new family of aircraft.”

Udvar-Hazy downplays concern that Boeing risks losing a lot of business to the NEO as it takes time to decide on a strategy. “Airbus won’t have many positions left after this air show,” he noted here. “If [Boeing] can get it out by 2019 or early 2020, we’re very interested.”

Bjorn Kjos, CEO of Norwegian Air Shuttle, says he is “lining up in the long queue of airlines that tell Boeing they have to build a new aircraft.”

Another major European airline buyer says a new aircraft is a must for Boeing.

But International Lease Finance Corp. CEO Henri Courpron believes it is best left to Boeing to determine which option to take. “Does a child want a new toy? Of course,” he said here. “Everybody wants a new airplane, but there comes a time to ask the parental, adult questions [such as], ‘How much will it cost?’ and ‘Do we need it?’”

At the air show, Boeing Commercial Airplanes CEO James Albaugh reiterated the company’s position that it does not have to make a decision on re-engining until the end of the year. “We have the design pretty much on the shelf to do the re-engine,” he said. “The question is, do we want to evolve . . . or do we want to take more risk and design an airplane for the next 50 years?”

Mike Bair, vice president of advanced 737 product development, adds that “there’s no need for an artificial deadline, and by the end of the year we’ll have got more direction.” A slip of an announcement into 2012 may indicate a decision to go for an all-new product. However, he says, “we’re still going to have re-engining available to us if we hit a show-stopper with NSA.”

Airbus has long suspected Boeing will launch a new program and then pull back, as it has done before, to pursue a more modest effort. Bair says re-engining would produce a 10-12% improvement. For the new aircraft, CFM International, Rolls-Royce and Pratt & Whitney all could offer viable engines that could be ready by 2019, according to Bair.

Regardless of what Boeing does, Jeffrey Knittel, CIT Group’s president of transportation finance, says Airbus will be in good shape. “We believe the NEO can stand on its own, whether there is a re-engined 737 or an all-new aircraft,” he said after placing an order for 50 NEOs. Still, he added, “I would hope [Boeing] will come to a decision soon.”

For the time being, Knittel says, “we think the A321 specifically presents a unique opportunity to fill a gap we see in the future.” He notes that it “gets as close to filling the [Boeing] 757 void as any aircraft out there.”

In addition to the NEO orders, Airbus also secured strong sales for its standard single-aisle product and, perhaps equally importantly, a big commitment from JetBlue to retrofit all its A320s with winglets. The winglet upgrade is part of JetBlue’s deal for 40 A320NEOs and conversion of some backlog A320s to A321s. The retrofits are available for A319s, A320s and A321s beginning in 2013 and should offer 3.5% fuel-burn savings, similar to the forward-fit winglets, Leahy says. The winglet’s price will also be similar to the forward-fit, around $950,000, although the retrofit kit could add to the cost. For JetBlue, the winglets promise range assurance on transatlantic flights.

Another key NEO order—from Republic Airways—fuels the competition with Bombardier’s CSeries, which the U.S. carrier is also buying. Airbus secured a deal to sell 80 NEOs to Republic, including the first 40 A319NEOs to be sold. Republic officials insist they have no plans to change their CSeries order, noting that the Canadian narrowbody will arrive in 2015 and the A319NEO a year later.

However, Teal Group analyst Richard Aboulafia says it makes no sense that Republic would want both jets. “Competition doesn’t get any more direct than the A319 and CS300,” he says. “Republic can talk forever about not cancelling [the CSeries order], but what is their rationale for two planes that do effectively identical jobs?”

At Le Bourget, though, the CSeries showed signs of gaining traction in the market. While it failed to win any orders at last year’s Farnborough air show in the midst of a 15-month drought, on the opening day here the Canadian airframer announced a firm order for 10 CS100s, with options for six more, giving new momentum to a program that some competitors have written off as a lost cause. The orders came from an undisclosed “major airline” that will become the launch operator for the 110-145-seat CSeries family.

Bombardier also received a letter of intent from Korean Air to acquire up to 30 CSeries jets, including 10 firm CS300 orders, potentially giving the CSeries its first customer in the Asia-Pacific region and its second global airline operator after Lufthansa. Walter Cho, Korean Air senior vice president in charge of fleet planning, said the deal should be finalized in the near future. He added that the airline intends to exercise its rights for the 20 remaining aircraft once the CSeries flies and demonstrates its advertised capabilities, which include fuel burn 20% lower than existing jets and 12% lower than the A319NEO.

The CSeries is scheduled to make its first flight next year and enter service in late 2013, powered by new Pratt & Whitney 1000G geared turbofan engines.

Despite the relatively low order intake compared with the NEO, Ben Boehm, Bombardier vice president for international business, says, “we’re not threatened by them.”

It is not just the jet airliner market that is clearly out of the doldrums of the past three years. ATR has announced orders for 88 aircraft through the first six months of 2011, a record for the turboprop maker, supporting its plans to boost output.

But for every upside, there is a downside. One is concern about the ability to satisfy the tremendous demand. “We certainly don’t want to get to the point that slots are constrained,” says Tom Williams, Airbus executive vice president for programs. The company has already talked with engine makers about a further production ramp-up, having recently moved to increase single-aisle output to a record 42 aircraft per month.

“We will investigate if we can go considerably higher,” Enders says. Airbus has a few production slots for standard A320s free in 2014 and for NEOs in 2018-19, depending on the turnover from standards to NEOs. Production for the A350 is sold out until 2018-19 and for the A330 until 2013-14.

Curado also notes that supplier issues are a concern as Embraer considers boosting output. “We may have some bottlenecks,” he says, adding that any production increase would be modest at first.

Boeing’s Albaugh says, “We have seven years’ worth of backlog, but it really needs to be in the three-to-four-year range. We need to burn down the backlog, and we have to respond to the marketplace.” Although Boeing has ramped up production, the order surge in recent days has taken up many of the new slots created through planned production increases.

Some skeptics wonder if the tens of billions of dollars in orders reaped at the Paris air show are too good to be true. Several institutional investors are privately questioning whether the market is growing fast enough to absorb so many new aircraft. Others fret about the ability of the supply chain to keep pace with the production buildup of the Boeing 787 and F-35 Joint Strike Fighter as well as the robust rate increases in narrowbody and widebody jets that Airbus and Boeing have planned for the next few years.

Source: Aviationweek


Boeing appears conflicted on 737 decision-experts

Tue Apr 12, 2011

(Reuters) – Boeing Co (BA.N) may be leaning toward building a new version of its best-selling 737 narrowbody jet, but industry experts said on Tuesday the company seems to be conflicted on the matter and appears increasingly less likely to make a decision in the next few months.

Boeing is deciding whether to redesign the 737 or simply put a more fuel-efficient engine in the existing design as its top rival Airbus (EAD.PA) intends to do with its competing A320.

A re-engined plane would offer fuel savings of about 10 percent and could be brought to market around 2016. An all-new version could offer double the fuel savings and be brought to market around 2019.

The world’s second-largest commercial plane-maker appears to be « split internally » about the direction of the 737 program, said aerospace analyst Scott Hamilton from Leeham Co LLC in a blog posting. here

Hamilton said the split appears to be over the potential size of the new aircraft and whether it should feature two aisles instead of just one.

Boeing has said repeatedly it is leaning toward making an all-new 737. Mike Bair, Boeing’s head of single-aisle development programs, told Reuters in March that Boeing hopes to share its direction by midyear, but he stopped short of promising a firm decision.

Boeing had previously said it would offer clarity on the 737 by the end of 2010, but delayed that decision.

« We are actively working with our customers and industry partners to identify the best solution for the small airplane market, » said Boeing spokeswoman Lauren Penning.

« Boeing has been clear that we expect to provide more clarity about our product strategy direction by midyear, » she said.

Airbus rolled the dice last year on a re-engined version of its competing A320. The company has pulled in impressive orders for the revamped model known as the A320neo.

Boeing and Airbus are racing for control of a single-aisle market worth an estimated $1.7 trillion over the next 20 years.

Alex Hamilton, managing director of EarlyBirdCapital, said he does not expect Boeing to announce plans for a new plane this summer.

« I believe they have several other issues on their plate and are very hesitant, I would assume, to mess with their bread and butter, » said Alex Hamilton, managing director of EarlyBirdCapital. « In addition, I think the recent Southwest incident points to the wear and tear the 737 takes and how difficult a re-engine would be. »

The 737 made headlines earlier this month after a Southwest Airlines 737 made an emergency landing with a gaping hole in the fuselage. U.S. regulators last week ordered airlines to inspect older model 737s for cracks. (Reporting by Kyle Peterson; Editing by Phil Berlowitz)

Boeing and Turkish Airlines Confirm Order for 15 Next-Generation 737s Order includes additional 737-900ERs

SEATTLE — Boeing and Turkish Airlines (THY) have announced the Istanbul-based carrier has exercised options for 15 Next-Generation 737s. The order, comprised of 10 737-800s and 5 737-900ERs, has an average list-price value of more than $1.2 billion.

Boeing has received orders from 14 customers for a total of 305 737-900ERs, the newest member of the 737 family. The higher capacity, longer-range derivative of the 737-900 was launched in July 2005. The 737-900ER offers 6 percent lower operating costs per trip and 4 percent lower operating costs per seat mile than competing models.

Boeing will deliver all of Turkish Airlines new Next-Generation 737s with the innovative Boeing Sky Interior. The new interior introduces larger overhead stowage bins with a new pivoting design that provides more open space in the cabin.

Passengers will enjoy soft blue sky overhead simulated by light-emitting diode (LED) lighting. The new interior also features modern, sculpted sidewalls and window reveals to draw passengers’ eyes to the view outside the window, as well as cove lighting and curving architecture.

« Today’s 737 order is another important step in our partnership with Turkish Airlines, » said Marlin Dailey, vice president of Sales & Marketing for Boeing Commercial Airplanes. « The new Boeing Sky Interior, combined with the 737’s industry-leading reliability and superior operating efficiency, provides the perfect tool for Turkish Airlines to continue its successful network expansion. »

« These new Boeing 737 aircraft will help us to reach even more cities and build a truly global network, » said Turkish Airlines CEO, Dr. Temel Kotil. « We are very eager to have these new aircraft join the Turkish Airlines fleet—increasing efficiency, reliability and passenger comfort. »

Today’s operators fly 737s that are 5 percent more fuel-efficient than the first Next-Generation 737s and additional improvements are on the way. Boeing’s performance improvement package will boost fuel efficiency a further 2 percent through aerodynamic and engine changes. The improvements to the airframe and engine are expected to be in service between mid-2011 and early 2012 and will be incorporated into the 15 aircraft ordered by THY.

Boeing and EL AL Complete Contract for Four 737-900ERs

SEATTLE, March 23, 2011 /PRNewswire/ — Boeing (NYSE: BA) and EL AL have announced that the Israeli national carrier has completed a contract to order four Next-Generation 737-900ERs (extended range) and reserve options for future aircraft. The four-airplane order is valued at approximately $343.2 million at current list prices.

« By almost any measure, from the passenger experience to operating performance, EL AL has earned a place among the world’s top airlines, » said Marlin Dailey, vice president of Sales & Marketing for Boeing Commercial Airplanes. « The decision to add 737-900ERs to their fleet will help solidify EL AL’s position as a leading airline. Boeing is proud of our longstanding partnership with EL AL, and honored that their tradition of flying an all-Boeing fleet continues with this order. »

The Boeing 737-900ER is the newest member of the Next-Generation 737 airplane family. It can seat up to 215 passengers in a single-class configuration and has a range of up to 3,265 nautical miles (6,045 km). The 737-900ER offers 6 percent lower operating costs per trip and 4 percent lower operating costs per seat mile than competing models.

Elyezer Shkedy, Chief Executive Officer, EL AL said: « These additional airplanes will help us expand our fleet to meet the growing demand from our customers. We will use the Boeing 737-900ERs to replace the current fleet of 757-200s and to serve the growing markets in our network. The 737 family of aircraft provide outstanding performance and the lowest in the industry operating costs per seat mile. »

Boeing will deliver EL AL’s new Next-Generation 737-900ERs with the all-new 737 Boeing Sky Interior, the latest in a series of enhancements designed to improve the Next-Generation 737 for both airlines and passengers. EL AL’s 737-900ERs will also incorporate a package of performance improvements that will reduce fuel consumption and carbon emissions by 2 percent – making the airplane a full 7 percent more efficient than the first Next-Generation 737s delivered.

EL AL operates 41 routes to 27 countries with its current fleet of 40 Boeing aircraft.

Boeing Begins Final Assembly of 1st P-8A Poseidon Production Aircraft

RENTON, Wash., March 9, 2011 — Boeing [NYSE: BA] today began final assembly of the first U.S. Navy P-8A Poseidon production aircraft in the company’s Renton factory. The P-8A is the first of six low-rate initial production aircraft that Boeing is building as part of a $1.6 billion contract awarded by the Navy in January.

The Navy plans to purchase 117 of the Boeing 737-based P-8A anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft to replace its P-3 fleet.

“Boeing will deliver this first aircraft to the Navy on schedule in 2012 in preparation for initial operational capability, which is planned for 2013,” said Chuck Dabundo, Boeing vice president and P-8 program manager. “Our team has built seven P-8A test aircraft to date and the process improvements and efficiencies we’ve incorporated will continue to help reduce costs as the program moves forward.”

The Poseidon team is using a first-in-industry in-line production process that draws on Boeing’s Next-Generation 737 production system. All aircraft modifications unique to the P-8A are made in sequence during fabrication and assembly.

The start of final assembly follows Spirit AeroSystems’ delivery of the P-8A fuselage to Boeing. The fuselage arrived via rail car on March 7 and was loaded into a tooling fixture. Boeing workers have begun installing systems, wires and other small parts.

“We’re excited to transition from the development airplanes to production,” said John Pricco, Boeing Commercial Airplanes P-8 program manager. “Our team’s tremendous work has put us in a good position as we ramp up to build both the P-8A for the United States and the P-8I for India.”

Boeing was awarded a System Development and Demonstration contract in 2004 to build and test six flight-test and two ground-test P-8A aircraft. The first three flight-test planes — T1, T2 and T3 — are completing testing at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md. The program’s static test plane, S1, completed its test program earlier this year.

A derivative of the Next-Generation 737-800, the Poseidon is built by a Boeing-led industry team that includes CFM International, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, Spirit AeroSystems, BAE Systems and GE Aviation.


LOS ANGELES, March 8, 2011 — International Lease Finance Corporation (ILFC), a wholly
owned subsidiary of American International Group, Inc. (NYSE: AIG), today announced that it has signed a memorandum of understanding for the purchase of 100 A320neo family aircraft from Airbus and a purchase agreement for 33 737-800 aircraft from Boeing. These decisions follow a year in which ILFC regained access to substantial liquidity with initiatives that led to $14 billion in financings and aircraft sales followed by a $2 billion revolving unsecured line of credit from eleven banks. For the year ended December 31, 2010, the company recorded strong revenues and cash flow from operations, positioning ILFC for future growth.

The purchase agreement with Boeing will secure near-term access to the popular 737-800 aircraft with deliveries beginning in 2012. The memorandum of understanding with Airbus includes 75 A320neo and 25 A321neo, 60 of which will be powered by the Pratt & Whitney PurePower PW1100G engine beginning in 2016. This new agreement with Airbus will replace ILFC’s prior commitment for ten A380s.

ILFC Chief Executive Officer Henri Courpron commented, “These orders rebalance ILFC’s order book and allow us to continue to offer the most technologically advanced single-aisle aircraft to our customers. They perfectly complement our existing widebody orders for the 787 and A350 aircraft.”

ILFC Chief Financial Officer Fred Cromer continued, “We are pleased that the liquidity initiatives completed over the last twelve months have put ILFC in a position to take on these orders for new aircraft.”

About ILFC
ILFC is the international market leader in the leasing and remarketing of commercial jet aircraft to airlines around the world. The people of ILFC have a strong commitment to aviation and its role in building relationships across the globe that drive innovation, prosperity, and understanding.
ILFC currently owns a portfolio consisting of approximately 930 jet aircraft.

About AIG
American International Group, Inc. (AIG) is a leading international insurance organization serving customers in more than 130 countries. AIG companies serve commercial, institutional and individual customers through one of the most extensive worldwide property casualty networks of any insurer. In addition, AIG companies are leading providers of life insurance and retirement services in the United States. AIG common stock is listed on the New York Stock Exchange, as well as the stock exchanges in Ireland and Tokyo.

Bombardier Chief Sees Boeing Shift Buoying CSeries

March 04, 2011, 10:57 AM EST

By Rachel Layne and Andrea Rothman

March 4 (Bloomberg) — Bombardier Inc., with no new orders for its CSeries jet in a year, may be reinvigorated because rival Boeing Co. wants to target a different slice of the biggest commercial jet market.

Boeing said this week the company may build a successor to its narrow-body plane by 2019 that seats 150 to 220 people. That would leave the 100- to 150-seat category targeted by the CSeries “basically unaddressed with a new airplane,” Bombardier Chief Executive Officer Pierre Beaudoin said.

Almost half of narrow-body planes in the air today, or 5,550 aircraft, are in that seat-range with an average age of 13 years, according to research firm Ascend. Beaudoin said he’s believed since the CSeries inception that airlines would need to replace some of them.

“There is a substantial market there, maybe not big enough for Boeing or Airbus, but we feel for us, more than 6,000 aircraft over the next 20 years is a great market,” Beaudoin said in a telephone interview March 1.

Montreal-based Bombardier, the third-biggest planemaker, expects more orders in the “short term” for the CSeries, which is scheduled to enter service in 2013, Beaudoin said. He didn’t provide a date.

The successor to Boeing’s narrow-body 737, the world’s most widely flown jet, will probably be wider than the current model, Mike Bair, who heads the Boeing team studying the concept, said in an interview this week.

The second-biggest commercial-aircraft maker, Boeing prefers building an all-new plane to offering new engines on the existing aircraft as larger rival Airbus SAS did with its narrow-body A320.

Jet Fuel Prices

Boeing, which still hasn’t committed itself to a narrow- body strategy, will make a firm decision on whether to build a new jet and what size it would be by June, Bair said. The smallest 737 sold now starts at 125 seats.

What the Chicago-based company decides is pivotal to carriers choosing between more efficient aircraft from the three biggest planemakers amid a 27 percent gain in jet-fuel prices this year.

Airbus may not have a new narrow-body before 2027 as it doesn’t expect enough engine technology advances before then to warrant a $10 billion development program, Chief Operating Officer John Leahy has said.

Still, the A320neo, with upgraded engines, damages the business case for Bombardier’s CSeries, Leahy said. Bertrand Grabowski, the DVB Bank SE board member responsible for aviation clients, concurred.

‘Things Have Changed’

“Bombardier proposed a product that was definitely appealing, something airlines were ready to seriously consider,” he said. “But now, things have changed. With Airbus proposing the neo and Boeing expected to answer in one way or another later this year, any airline looking at the Bombardier plane will say, ‘I shall wait. What is my incentive today to the move to the CSeries? Zero.’”

Since the Toulouse, France-based planemaker introduced the A320neo in December, it has received commitments to buy 150 planes from IndiGo, the low-cost Indian airline, and orders from Virgin America Inc. and Tam Airlines of Brazil.

The CSeries has received no new orders since Republic Airways Holdings Inc. agreed to buy 40 jets and took options for 40 more about a year ago. Analysts have questioned whether that indicates a lack of demand for the aircraft, which will seat 100 to 149 passengers.

Never Seen Again

The aluminum-lithium and composite-plastic CSeries is a “good airplane that faces substantial challenges,” said Doug Runte, a managing director at Piper Jaffray & Co. in New York.

“The 100-130 seat space is the Bermuda Triangle of airplane types,” Runte said at the ICBI Geneva aircraft finance forum in late February. “I can think of five or six planes — some quite good — that were launched and went boldly into this space, only to never be seen again.”

In 2005, Boeing scrapped the 717 model, a 100-seat plane it inherited in the 1997 acquisition of McDonnell Douglas Corp. Airbus’s A318, which has comparable seating, drew only 83 orders from 1999, when the company committed to building it, through January, partly because it wasn’t efficient enough.

Defunct models with 100 seats or more include BAE Systems Plc’s Avro and some products of Fokker NV, which filed for bankruptcy in 1996.

‘What Airlines Want’

Potential CSeries orders from carriers such as Qatar Airways hovered in limbo last year as airlines grappled with risking capital on a brand-new plane while contending with volatile fuel prices as the industry recovered from the financial crisis.

“It’s getting down to crunch time,” Richard Aboulafia, a Fairfax, Virginia-based analyst with Teal Group, said of CSeries orders. “You need to see activity this year.”

Bombardier remains confident in the new jet, Beaudoin said. With 90 firm orders and 90 options, the CSeries is at the right stage for a brand-new development program and is sticking to its development schedule, the top customer concern after recent new wide-body aircraft from Boeing and Airbus were delayed by years, he said.

Bombardier fell 11 cents, or 1.7 percent, to $6.55 at 10:39 a.m. in Toronto Stock Exchange trading, while Boeing dropped 51 cents to $71.20 in New York.

Bombardier climbed 11 percent in the 12 months through yesterday, in line with Boeing. Both trailed a 14 percent gain in the 12-member S&P 500 Aerospace and Defense Index.

‘Meet The Timeline’

“The best thing Bombardier can do is continue to test the product, develop it, prove that they’ll meet the timeline they’re talking about,” Nat Pieper, the fleet manager for Delta Air Lines Inc., said in an interview at the Geneva conference last week.

Decisions by planemakers have decades-long consequences and involve billions more in investments by engine makers such as United Technologies Corp.’s Pratt & Whitney unit, whose geared turbofan engine is the only turbine option on the CSeries.

The Airbus neo offers a choice between the Pratt engine and the Leap-X from CFM International, a venture of General Electric Co. and Safran SA of France. The engines both offer about 15 percent efficiency improvements to start on new aircraft.

Crazy Notion

Airbus’ Leahy predicted last month that Bombardier may have to abandon the CSeries if it doesn’t see an order soon because the A320neo has logged orders quickly.

“What Airbus wants is irrelevant to me,” Beaudoin said. “What airlines want is relevant.”

The smallest neo in the A320 family, an A319 that can carry about 130 passengers, “is really a product that’s not competitive with the CSeries,” Beaudoin said. “It’s 12,000 pounds more than the CSeries, so just by its sheer weight it will be a lousy performer.”

Bombardier projects that an airline might save $1.82 million a year flying a CSeries plane in North America instead of an Airbus A319, assuming an oil price of $100 a barrel, 2,000 flights a year and no cost for carbon emission and noise fees. Under European rules, which include fee and noise restrictions, the savings would increase to $2.4 million a year.

“What validates the market space is putting an aircraft that can deliver the economics in the space,” Chet Fuller, who left GE’s aviation unit in December to lead Bombardier’s commercial sales and marketing, said in a Montreal interview.

Fuller says Bombardier’s goal is to have 20 to 30 customers including lessors worldwide, by the time the CSeries enters service in 2013. That gives the plane a kind of liquidity — a market value for lessors and airlines to gauge its worth later.

“I love 10-aircraft orders, the more the better,” Fuller said. “Customer breadth. So if I gave the order book to three customers in the first five years, the program would be a complete failure.”

–With assistance from Susanna Ray in Seattle and Doug Rothacker in Princeton. Editors: James Langford, James Callan

Boeing Statement on El Al’s Selection of Next-Generation 737-900ER

SEATTLE — Boeing is delighted that El Al Airlines has selected the 737-900ER for its fleet requirements. The 737-900ER’s size and range make it ideally suited for El Al’s network requirements.

We look forward to continuing our long-term partnership with El Al and to finalizing the details of this transaction.

Boeing, Comair Limited Announce Next-Generation 737 Order

JOHANNESBURG — Boeing and Comair Limited today announced an order for eight Next-Generation 737-800s complete with the innovative new Boeing Sky Interior. Comair will use its new 737s to update the fleet of Comair’s low-fare airline, The airplanes are valued at approximately $646 million at current list prices. The order previously was attributed to an unidentified customer on Boeing’s orders and deliveries website.

Launched in 2001 as South Africa’s first low-fare carrier,currently operates an all-Boeing fleet of ten 737s, including three leased 737-800s. Comair also operates as a franchise partner of British Airways, with thirteen 737 airplanes flying domestically in South Africa and regionally in Southern Africa.

« The purchase of new Boeing 737-800s is historic for our company and gives all our 1,800 staff a great feeling of pride, » said Gidon Novick, joint CEO of Comair Ltd. « The new fleet is an essential part of our efficiency drive, which will not only give us a cost leadership position in our industry, but also provide our customers with exceptional levels of reliability and comfort with the spacious new interior. »

In addition to its 737-800 order, Comair is purchasing the Maintenance Performance Toolbox from Boeing Commercial Aviation Services. The Maintenance Performance Toolbox improves an airline’s fleet efficiency by integrating manufacturer and customer documentation, use of intelligent graphics, cross-document searching and linking aircraft fault data to specific maintenance actions. It also provides a comprehensive structural repair history for each airplane while reducing the time needed to find tail-specific technical information in time-critical situations, such as line maintenance troubleshooting and dispatch.

« Comair is an amazing success story, as this airline company has posted operating profits each year since it was founded in 1946, » said Marlin Dailey, vice president of Sales and Marketing for Boeing Commercial Airplanes. « Today’s order demonstrates the value the 737-800 has already brought to its fleet and the confidence Comair has in this airplane. »

Today’s operators fly 737s that are 5 percent more fuel-efficient than the first Next-Generation 737s delivered in 1998, and another 2 percent improvement is on the way. Boeing’s performance improvement package, now being certified, will boost Comair’s fuel efficiency a further 2 percent through aerodynamic and engine changes.

Among the airlines that recently transported thousands of fans and football players throughout South Africa for the World Cup, Comair operates nearly 800 flights each week on its South African and regional routes.

Boeing, Alaska Airlines Complete Contract for 15 Next-Generation 737s

SEATTLE — Boeing and Alaska Airlines today announced an order for 15 Next-Generation 737 airplanes, comprised of 13 737-900ERs (extended range) and two 737-800s. The 737-900ER is a new model for the Alaska Airlines fleet. The contract, which includes exercised options previously placed by Alaska, is valued at $1.3 billion at list prices.

The largest and newest model in the 737 family, the 737-900ER can carry up to 26 more passengers or fly about 500 nautical miles (926 km) farther than the 737-900. The longer range of the 737-900ER will connect distant city pairs across continents, such as Seattle to Orlando, Fla., in a generous two-class configuration. It has substantial economic advantages over competing models, including six percent lower operating costs per trip and four percent lower operating costs per seat mile. Alaska Airlines plans to operate the 737-900ER in a two-class configuration with 178 to 184 seats.

« The reliability and efficiency of our 737 fleet has been a direct contributor to our strong financial performance, » said Brad Tilden, president of Alaska Airlines. « The 737-900ER will be a perfect fit for our transcontinental, high traffic west coast and mid-continental markets and will be the most fuel efficient airplane in our fleet. We look forward to adding the same ‘Proudly All Boeing’ logo to these airplanes that already adorns the rest of our 737 fleet. »

The Next-Generation 737s will add capability to Alaska Airlines’ fleet of 114 737s currently serving 61 destinations in the United States, Canada and Mexico.

« Alaska Airlines has established a strong record of operational and financial performance by operating a highly efficient and flexible all-Boeing 737 fleet, » said Marlin Dailey, vice president of Sales and Marketing for Boeing Commercial Airplanes. « The addition of these Next-Generation 737s demonstrates our hometown partner’s strong investment in its future growth. It also speaks to the continuous improvements we are making to the Next-Generation 737 in terms of efficiency, economics, reliability and passenger comfort. »

The Next-Generation 737 family is the world’s best-selling commercial jetliner. Demand for the Next-Generation 737 has led Boeing to announce two production rate increases, leading to the highest-ever production rates for the airplane in 2013