Singapore Airlines (SIA) (SIAL.SI) announced a $13.8 billion provisional order to buy 39 Boeing (BA.N) wide-body aircraft as it pursues expansion opportunities, dealing a setback for Airbus Group (AIR.PA) in the battle of big twinjets between the two manufacturers, Reuters reports.
SIA signed a letter of intent with Boeing for 20 777-9s and 19 787-10s to tap additional passenger growth and to modernize its fleet over the next decade. Additional options for the two aircraft types could take the deal to as many as 51 aircraft.
The agreement leaves questions over Airbus proposals to develop a larger 400-seat version of its A350 passenger jet to compete with the 406-seat Boeing 777-9.
Singapore’s flagship carrier had been seen as a key potential launch customer for the proposed jet, but Airbus last year postponed a decision on whether to launch the new project amid pressure on demand for wide-body jets.
The fact that Airbus was not ready to make a definitive offer to supply the new plane, relying instead on the 366-seat A350-1000, may have been a handicap in the contest for Singapore’s business, an industry source said.
“Our priority is to certify and assure entry to service of the A350-1000,” an Airbus spokesman said, adding that the two main existing models represented a “good platform” for airline needs.
The deal is a boost for Boeing as the U.S. company seeks both to maintain momentum for its newest version of 777 and to shore up export-related jobs at a time when domestic manufacturing employment is a sensitive political issue under U.S. President Donald Trump.
“Today’s major order for widebody aircraft enables us to continue operating a modern and fuel-efficient fleet, providing the SIA Group with additional expansion opportunities to ensure that we retain our industry-leading position,” SIA’s chief executive officer Goh Choon Phong said in a statement.
Airlines typically get discounts on list prices when placing large orders.