More orders for Boeing’s 777X at English air show

A Mideast airline’s huge order for Boeing’s popular 777X put Boeing ahead of its rival Airbus in the race to announce the most widebody jetliner orders and commitment’s at this week’s Farnborough Air Show.

Qatar Airways signed orders and took options for up to 108 Boeing 777s at the annual show, the largest gathering of aerospace contractors and customers in 2014.

At list prices, those planes are worth nearly $38 billion. All will be produced at Boeing’s wide-body plant in Everett.

The Qatar order includes 50 777-9X aircraft and options for 50 more. The airline also ordered four 777F freighters and took options for four more of the twin-engine planes.

The 777X, an upgraded 777 with new wings, engines and stretched fuselage, is due to enter commercial service in 2020.

Akbar Al Baker, the Doha-based airline’s chief executive, said the performance of the airline’s existing fleet of 777-300ERs was a factor in signing the big order with Boeing.

“What changed is the confidence we have in Boeing to be able to make absolute top-class aircraft. They have a track record of what they’ve done with the 777-300ER, which exceeded all its performance expectations, and we have confidence that the 777X will be the same,” says Al Baker told Flightglobal.

The Qatar order put Boeing ahead of Airbus in wide-bodied aircraft orders for the show with 142 compared with Airbus’s 111. In overall orders, however, Airbus leads with 404 to Boeing’s 269.

Boeing also received commitments from a Chinese carrier, Hainan Airlines, for 50 737 Max 8s. The Max line of 737s will debut in 2017. They feature updated engines and aerodynamic improvements designed to improve fuel efficiency by 14 percent over existing single-aisle planes.

MG Aviation, a leasing firm, also ordered two 787-9s from Boeing Wednesday, and Air Algerie ordered two 737-700cs. Those aircraft are quickly convertible from passenger to freight configurations.