Wed, Apr 04, 2012 - Page 12 News List

Boeing sees strong sales for new 737 MAX series

By Amy Su  /  Staff reporter

Rising crude oil prices and the rapid growth in travel across the Taiwan Strait will help drive up demand for Boeing Co’s new 737 MAX series aircraft, a company executive said yesterday.

Boeing said it had received orders and commitments for more than 1,000 Boeing 737 MAX planes from 16 airlines since the company launched the single-aisle passenger series in August last year — with 451 orders already guaranteed.

These 16 customers include commercial jet aircraft leasing firm Aviation Capital Group Corp, American Airlines, Southwest Airline and the Indonesian budget carrier Lion Air, Boeing said in a statement.

With fuel prices trending higher, the company expects major global carriers to raise demand for the 737 MAX, Randy Tinseth, vice president of marketing for Boeing, told a press conference in Taipei.

The recent rise in crude oil prices might delay major carriers’ expenditure on new aircraft purchases, Tinseth said, but he remained upbeat about the plane’s long-term prospects.

The 737 MAX burns fuel at a rate that is 10 to 12 percent lower than today’s most fuel-efficient single-aisle airplanes, such as the 737 Next Generation, Tinseth said.

Every 2 percent improvement in fuel efficiency translates into savings of about US$1 million for an air carrier, Tinseth said, citing company data.

“The 737 MAX will have the lowest operating costs in the single-aisle segment, with a 7 percent advantage per seat over the competition in the future,” he said.

In addition, Boeing expects passenger airlines to rely primarily on single-aisle airplanes to serve not only cross-strait routes, but also many other intra-Asian routes.

The company estimates that the global airline industry will order an additional 33,500 aircraft by 2030, with 23,370 of them — accounting for about 70 percent of total orders — being single-aisle aircraft.

In value terms, total orders are estimated to reach US$4 trillion, with single-aisle planes contributing US$1.95 trillion, the company statement said.

Currently, the development of the Boeing 737 MAX is on schedule to reach firm configuration of the airplane next year, its first flight in 2016 and commercial delivery in 2017, the statement said.

“The first 737 MAX aircraft is set to be delivered to Southwest Airlines in 2017,” Tinseth said.

Boeing said Taiwan could rank among its top 20 buyers, given strong demand to fill expanding cross-strait routes and local airlines’ move to upgrade their fleet.

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