Boeing attracts bids for 50 of its embattled 737 Max jets at Dubai Air Show

An aerial photo shows Boeing 737 MAX aircraft at Boeing facilities at the Grant County International Airport in Moses Lake, Washington, September 16, 2019.

Lindsey Wasson | Reuters

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Boeing managed to reach day three of the Dubai Air Show with bids for 50 of its embattled 737 Max jets, a day after getting a firm order for 10 of the jets from leisure airline SunExpress.

Kazakhstan carrier Air Astana announced Tuesday a letter of intent for 30 of the Max jets, which have been grounded globally since March following two devastating crashes in the span of five months that killed 346 people.

The bid, which comes on top of a reported firm order from a mystery buyer for 20 of the Max jets, represents a vote of confidence for a plane whose dangerous defects triggered the largest crisis in the aviation industry this year.

Air Astana’s commitment, valued at $3.6 billion, is not a firm order, and all of the deals of the last week remain subject to the aircraft receiving regulatory approval to return to service. The Kazakh airline is also a customer of Boeing’s French rival Airbus, which has raked in massive deals this week so far outshadowing those of the American plane-maker.

The Wall Street Journal on Tuesday reported 10 orders for Boeing’s 737 MAX 7 and 10 for its 737 MAX 10 from an undisclosed buyer, citing people familiar with the matter.

Tuesday’s news follows an increased order for the Max 737 8 jets from Turkey-based airline SunExpress, which added a firm order for 10 of the planes, worth $1.2 billion at list prices, in addition to a previous order of 32. A steep discount is typically negotiated by airlines.

The Dubai Air Show, known for record-breaking mega deals, typically sees fierce competition for deals from rivals Airbus and Boeing, who each own approximately half of the market for large commercial airliners. But the American plane-maker’s presence has been subdued thus far, weighed down by the crashes, ensuing safety concerns and the grounding of its fleet of roughly 400 jets around the world.

The aerospace giant has struggled this year, with new orders all but drying up as a result. British Airways parent, International Consolidated Airline Group, said during the Paris Air Show in June that it intends to buy 200 of the 737 Max planes, but that order has not been firmed up.

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