The Farnborough Airshow wrapped up Thursday, and both Boeing Co. (NYSE: BA) and Airbus are exclaiming over the number of new orders that were announced during the show. In terms of sheer numbers, Boeing announced a total of 673 new orders, while Airbus claimed 431. That’s a total of 1,104 new commercial jets between the two companies.
Teasing out what those numbers really mean is a slightly different kettle of fish. Orders for new airplanes can be put into one of two buckets: firm orders or commitments. With a firm order, the customer typically pays some portion of the price. A commitment brings no cash and is categorized either as a letter of intent (LoI) or a memorandum of understanding (MoU).
Boeing racked up a dollar value of $98.4 billion in orders and commitments for new commercial planes (at list prices) during the show and added $2.1 billion in orders and agreements for military and commercial services contracts.
Airbus did not provide a dollar value for its new business, but our back-of-the-envelope calculations put the total value of the 431 orders at around $50 billion to $60 billion.
Boeing was particularly pleased to receive new orders for 48 of its 777F and five new 747-8F freighters. The 777s are especially welcome because they provide a bridge for the 777 assembly line between the current 777 and the coming 777X. The company’s other dual-aisle plane, the 787 Dreamliner, ended the show with 52 new orders.
The single-aisle 737 MAX received 564 new orders and commitments, including an MoU for 100 of the planes from VietJet, a relatively new airline with a current fleet of 30 Airbus A320s. VietJet also signed an MoU for 50 more A320neos, meaning the airline plans a 5x expansion over the next several years. If every one of those planes is delivered, it would be nothing short of miraculous.
Airbus also took 60 orders for its new A220-300, the rebranded Bombardier CS300, from U.S. airline startup Moxy, and, perhaps more important, the A330neo wrangled a new firm order for 34 wide-bodies from AirAsia X and a total of 56 orders and commitments for the A330 family jets. The A330 and A330neo have been getting beaten up by Boeing’s 787, so these orders are doubly important for Airbus.
Both companies announced orders or commitments from unidentified buyers, more so than usual according to Reuters. One Farnborough attendee commented, “Airshow? It was more of a UFO show this year.” Buyers may have been reluctant to go on the record because of the impending trade war or because they were not about to be pushed into a deal the aircraft makers could announce. Whatever the case, they could be persuaded to agree to an incognito announcement that beefed up totals for Airbus and Boeing.