| April 23
April 23 Boeing Co has pulled ahead of
Airbus in a race to win an aircraft order potentially
worth more than $15 billion at list value with United
Continental Holdings, but intense negotiations lie ahead
to close a deal that Airbus is unlikely to abandon without a
fight, industry sources said.
Three sources familiar with the talks said on Monday that
Boeing is now seen as the front-runner for the order for about
180 narrowbody airplanes, which would feature mostly the
upcoming, fuel-efficient upgrades to the Boeing 737 and the
The sources said a deal could be concluded this summer.
United, Boeing and Airbus declined to comment on the upcoming
"It is possible that they could do a deal with Boeing now
and wink at Airbus and that between now and the end of the year
there will be some kind of Airbus order," said a senior industry
source, who asked not to be identified because of the
confidential nature of the talks.
United Airlines merged in 2010 with Continental Airlines,
becoming the world's largest airline. United and Boeing are
Chicago-based, and Airbus is a unit of European company EADS.
"Having merged with Continental, United has a mixed fleet
which is dominated by Boeing aircraft, though the current United
management team is effectively the Continental team, which had
an exclusive Boeing supply relationship for many years," said
Rob Stallard, an aerospace analyst with RBC Capital Markets.
Bloomberg reported on Monday that Airbus had dropped out of
"Any deal is not over until it is signed," Stallard said.
Boeing and Airbus, the world's two largest plane-makers, are
competing for customers for the next versions of their
best-selling narrowbodies. The 737 MAX, due to enter service in
2017, battles the Airbus A320neo, due to enter service in 2015.
Both planes promise double-digit fuel savings.
Narrowbody jets are the industry's workhorse, feeding the
big hubs or operating quick turnarounds for low-cost carriers.
Boeing, which hopes to overtake its rival in orders this
year, aims to prevent a repeat of a dramatic win by the European
plane-maker at rival American Airlines last year.
American, a unit of bankrupt AMR Corp, placed an
order for 460 narrowbodies last year before entering Chapter 11.
The airline previously had been an all-Boeing customer.
Last year, Delta Air Lines ordered 100
Next-Generation 737-900ER airplanes with a total list value of
Carriers often negotiate airplane purchases at prices well
below list value.
Shares of Boeing closed down 69 cents at $72.86 on the New
York Stock Exchange.