The total value of the reported deals is around $20.7 billion, and the Chinese government must approve the purchase, a routine practice when the country’s airlines order new aircraft. China’s three largest air carriers, Air China Ltd., China Southern Airlines Co. Ltd. (NYSE: ZNH) and China Eastern Airlines Corp. Ltd. (NYSE: CEA), all own current models of the Boeing 737, as well as the Airbus A320, a competitor to the 737 from the European Aeronautic Defense and Space Co. (EADS).
First deliveries for the 737 MAX are scheduled for 2017, and the Airbus A320neo, an upgraded competitor, is due in 2015. Airbus already has said it has commitments for 60 of the A320neo planes from Air China.
There is also a new homegrown competitor to the 737 and A320. Commercial Aircraft Corp. of China, or Comac, is scheduled to deliver its first single aisle, narrow-body airplanes, dubbed the C919, in 2016.
Commitments are not the same as orders in the aircraft business, and even orders can be cancelled, so it is too early to ring up Boeing’s sales. Besides, the company has to get the plane built and tested, something that has given Boeing more than a few headaches with its 787 Dreamliner.
Boeing has not commented on the Reuters story.
Boeing shares closed at $128.98 on Thursday night after posting a new 52-week high of $128.99. The 52-week low is $69.30.