July 10, 2018 / 3:23 PM / 5 months ago

Boeing's first-half deliveries up seven percent, orders surge past Airbus

SEATTLE (Reuters) - Boeing Co’s (BA.N) first-half aircraft deliveries rose more than 7 percent, lifted by demand for its bestselling 737 jetliners as airlines seek more fuel-efficient planes, and orders were more than double those of European rival Airbus SE (AIR.PA).

FILE PHOTO: Boeing's logo is seen during Japan Aerospace 2016 air show in Tokyo, Japan, October 12, 2016. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon/File Photo

The announcement on Tuesday caps a successful half year for the world’s largest planemaker and comes a week ahead of the Farnborough Airshow in Britain, where airlines typically place orders.

Chicago-based Boeing had 460 net aircraft orders in the first half of 2018, compared with Airbus’s 206, rebounding after losing that race to Airbus last year.

Deliveries are financially important to planemakers because that’s when airlines pay over most of the money, while orders give a better glimpse of planemakers’ prospects.

Boeing said its in-house financing arm, Boeing Capital Corp, acquired 75 single-aisle 737s for an unnamed buyer, indicating Boeing had to help arrange financing to close the deal.

Such deals do not typically stay on Boeing’s balance sheet but would be sold on to other lessors. Boeing declined to name the underlying customer involved.

Boeing has said it aims to ship between 810 and 815 commercial aircraft in 2018, as much as 6.8 percent more than the industry record 763 jets it delivered in 2017, putting it ahead of Airbus for the sixth year in a row. Airbus forecasts delivering around 800 planes in general for 2018.

Airbus scored a key victory on Tuesday, with U.S. airline JetBlue (JBLU.O) announcing it would buy 60 of its A220-300 narrowbody jets, the first major order for the planemaker’s newly rebranded program as its battle with rival Boeing Co intensifies.

Boeing said first-half deliveries rose 7.4 percent to 378 aircraft, led by higher demand for its single-aisle 737 jetliners. Deliveries have been fueled by strong demand from airlines that are enjoying booming passenger travel.

Airbus delivered 303 aircraft in the first half, down about 1 percent from a year earlier.

Boeing shares rose 1.5 percent to $347.16.

The Farnborough Airshow, held every other year in alternation with Paris, kicks off July 16 outside London. Global planemakers could reap 900 orders and commitments from the show, down just slightly from last year’s event, as strong oil prices prompt airlines to top up orders for fuel-efficient narrowbody models, aviation consultancy IBA Group said.

On average, the summer jamborees account for 30 percent of annual commercial business, according to IBA.

Reporting by Ankit Ajmera in Bengaluru, Eric M. Johnson in Seattle, and Tim Hepher in Paris; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe and Phil Berlowitz

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