Boeing blames geopolitical differences on limited exports to China

After announcing a $37 billion deal between multiple Chinese airlines and Airbus earlier this week, US-based rival Boeing has expressed dismay and blamed the US-China trade war for the rejection.

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Airbus placed a record order and deal on Friday for 292 narrowbody jets, including 100 A320neos for China Eastern Airlines only.

Air China, Shenzhen Airlines and China Southern Airlines ordered 64, 23 and 96 of the type respectively, including 19 more through leases to China Southern.

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The announcement was a big hit for Boeing, with China Southern previously being the manufacturer’s largest customer; however, trade disputes and the grounding of the 737 MAX series have resulted in declining orders.

Friday’s $37 billion deal was likely helped in part by Airbus’s final assembly line in Tianjin, with the order creating additional jobs as the aircraft manufacturer aims to increase production by 2024. Photo: Getty Images

“As the top US exporter with a 50-year relationship with the Chinese aerospace industry, it is disappointing that geopolitical differences continue to limit US aircraft exports,” The company said in a statement on Friday.

“We continue to push for a productive dialogue between governments, given the mutual economic benefits of a thriving aviation industry. Boeing aircraft sales to China have historically supported tens of thousands of U.S. jobs, and we hope orders and deliveries will resume soon.”

Boeing is currently stocking about 150 undelivered 737 MAX family aircraft for Chinese airlines while the aircraft awaits recertification in the country. In June, China Southern resumed flight testing of the model, raising hopes that China could lift restrictions on the jet soon.

The MAX’s return to the lucrative market depends largely on completing aircraft modifications, pilot training, and various other logistics before it can see commercial flights. While progress is already slow, China’s shift to Airbus could slow things down even further.

However, questions have been raised as to whether Airbus will be able to meet demand in a sufficiently short time frame, which could lead to a faster recertification of the MAX and a revival of the relationship between Boeing and China. The European aircraft manufacturer has noted a slowdown in deliveries due to constraints with the global supply chain, well below its monthly target. Airbus currently has an order book of nearly 6,000 A320 family aircraft.

Despite this week’s loss, Boeing expects a 130-person order from Delta Air Lines for its Boeing 737 MAX 10 in the near future. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Easy flying

Positives elsewhere

It’s not all doom and gloom for Boeing, though – despite missing out on China, the company is already looking to the growing African market.

“We have” have a very rich history in Africa, and we are very proud of that,” Kuljit Ghata-Aura, Boeing president of the Middle East, Turkey and Africa commented on the AviaDev Insight Africa podcast last month. “We have” got 60 plus airlines, 500 plus Boeing planes operating all over Africa. It’s really important – 66% of all aircraft in operation are Boeing.”

The company’s current annual Commercial Market Outlook has identified the need for at least 1,000 new jets across Africa by 2040, an investment potential of $160 billion. About 72% of that need will be for narrowbodies, giving the MAX some opportunities to see more service on the continent.

While only four of the type are in service with Ethiopian Airlines and Royal Air Maroc, another 50 are on order for Air Peace, Arik Air and Ethiopian.

Boeing will also see an order for 130 MAX 10 jets from US carrier Delta Air Lines in the coming weeks, according to The Air Current. After several years of talks, Delta could take delivery of its first Boeing jet since 2019 in 2025. While it will not regain its status as the airline’s exclusive supplier, MAX could regain some of Boeing’s position as Delta awaits its backlog of Airbus orders.

What do you think of the latest news on the Airbus-Boeing rivalry? Let us know in the comments.

Sources: Bloomberg, The Air Current

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