Boeing takes off after Farnborough orders

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Boeing clinched the first big deal of this year's Farnborough Airshow, with a firm order from U.S. lessor Air Lease for 75 of its new, fuel-efficient 737 MAX aircraft worth $7.2 billion. The 75-plane firm order is for 60 of the MAX 8 version and 15 of the MAX 9. Boeing’s recent tweaks to the MAX, including winglets to help save fuel, helped win over Air Lease, the company said.

Expectations are high that Boeing will clinch a raft of deals for the plane as it tries to catch up with rival Airbus (EAD) in orders for single-aisle aircraft. At last year's Paris Airshow, Airbus outsold Boeing by four times in the sector with its A320neo. The two are locked in their fiercest battle for up to a decade, slashing prices to win orders for their latest narrow-body jets.

Airbus has yet to announce any deals at Farnborough, but revealed that it plans to enhance its mid-sized long-haul A330 range of aircraft to give it a longer flying range. Though economies are stuttering, aircraft demand remains relatively strong as airlines modernize fleets to survive high fuel costs and the balance of growth shifts towards Asia, prompting Boeing to raise forecasts last week.

The defense industry, however, is struggling as countries cut military procurement budgets.

Boeing (BA : NYSE : US$74.03), Net Change: 0.34, % Change: 0.46%, Volume: 4,339,934

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