Singapore’s BOC Aviation is buying 82 Boeing jets in a bet on airlines’ demand for new planes to serve Asia’s air-travel boom.
The order, the leasing company’s biggest ever, is valued at $8.8 billion at list prices. But buyers get large discounts on big orders so the real price is likely around $4.3 billion, according to data from aircraft-valuation firm Avitas.
“We want to be in the younger end of the market,” BOC Aviation Managing Director Robert Martin said Monday. “We want the most fuel-efficient planes.”
Most of the 82-plane purchase is from Boeing’s top-selling 737 family, split between 50 of the upgraded MAX 8 and 30 of the current -800 version, BOC Aviation said. The company, a unit of Bank of China, also will take two widebody 777s.
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The purchase builds on BOC Aviation’s decision last month to buy 43 jets from Boeing competitor Airbus, which also picked up a sale of $11.8 billion of planes to Japanese lessor SMBC Aviation.
China Aircraft Leasing Group Holdings has also said it plans to expand after becoming the region’s first lessor to sell shares to the public in a transaction last month.
Air traffic in Asia is projected to expand 5.7 percent through 2017, the second-fastest pace in the world, the International Air Transport Association said last year. Boeing has forecast global demand for $5.2 trillion of commercial jets in the next 20 years as China overtakes the U.S. as the world’s largest aviation market.
BOC Aviation’s order for the 737s will help meet growing demand for the latest planes including the MAX, Martin said. Boeing is equipping the updated model with new engines developed by a General Electric venture promising better fuel economy.
“If you look forward in the next seven years, we’re in a transition for the 737 aircraft,” Martin said. “You have somewhere in the mid-20s of operators already committed to the program, but we can see potential for that to go up to easily 100 operators. So we want to make sure we’re part of growing that program.”
For Boeing, the sale is a boost in its rivalry with Airbus in sales of single-aisle planes, the workhorses of global airline fleets. The 737 competes with the Airbus A320, and the MAX models are challenging the new A320neo.
BOC Aviation said it will receive the 737s from 2016 through 2021. A Boeing statement announcing the transaction didn’t give a delivery date for the two 777-300ER jet.
Counting all its orders, BOC Aviation projects receiving an average 27 planes a year starting in 2015, while also disposing of 20 to 30 annually, Martin said.
The lessor expects to pick up more planes from Airbus and Boeing that were earmarked for other buyers and then not taken, Martin said. BOC Aviation has received eight aircraft that were intended for other customers, he said.
“I think we’re going to see more of that,” Martin said. “It’s not finished yet. I could do another $1 billion of capacity in 2015 if need be.”
BOC Aviation plans more bond sales this year and next year and will also tap banks to finance the plane purchase, Martin said.