Boeing extended its already large sales lead for the year, although it has announced zero orders from China due to trade tensions while Airbus this year has booked more than 70 orders from China.

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FARNBOROUGH, England — The business side of the Farnborough Air Show ended Thursday with Boeing winning just over 100 more airplane orders and commitments than Airbus.

That extended Boeing’s already large sales lead for the year, despite getting zero orders from China due to trade tensions, while Airbus this year has booked more than 70 orders from China.

Big wins for Boeing sales chief Ihssane Mounir included orders and commitments for 53 large widebody freighter jets, 52 787 Dreamliners, and 110 of the largest member of the 737 family, the MAX 10.

Mounir showed up at Boeing’s closing press conference in a stylish Hawaiian shirt to celebrate the closing of a deal for 10 787s with Hawaiian Airlines that had been announced in March.

Boeing sales chief Ihssane Mounir, speaking at Boeing’s closing press conference on the last business day of the  Farnborough Air Show.
Boeing sales chief Ihssane Mounir, speaking at Boeing’s closing press conference on the last business day of the Farnborough Air Show.

“I’m in a very Hawaiian mood,” he joked.

The buzz around the Air Show was all about Boeing’s proposed new plane, the NMA or 797. What’s the market for it? Can Airbus stymie it with the A321neo and A330neo? Boeing said it’s working intensely on the concept but revealed no new details.

Boeing did use Farnborough to highlight its proposed agreement with Brazilian regional jetmaker Embraer to take over 80 percent of its E-jet line-up and to extend collaboration between the companies in other areas.

Embraer CEO Paolo Cesar de Souza e Silva, in a joint press conference with Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg, said the transaction is about much more than the E-jets, and indicated that Embraer will help Boeing design and build components.

“We have good capability in landing gears and interiors,” he said.

Embraer had been lagging in sales this year, but gained considerable momentum at Farnborough with orders and commitments for 126 E-jets.

But Boeing must wait until late next year before taking over that portfolio.

New Airbus sales chief Eric Schulz, at his first Air Show since being appointed to replace longtime sales legend John Leahy, actually had a new small jet family to show off and to sell.

The new Airbus A220, formerly the CSeries taken over from Bombardier on the first of this month, made a successful debut. With 120 commitments in the less than two weeks since Airbus took over, prospects look good for this jet family.

The Air Show also saw the large Airbus single-aisle A321 jet continue to sell exceptionally well.

New Airbus sales chief Eric Schulz, speaking on the  last business day of the Farnborough  Air SHow 2018
New Airbus sales chief Eric Schulz, speaking on the last business day of the Farnborough Air SHow 2018

Schulz had one important win on the final day that was more a relief than a triumph.

In down-to-the-wire negotiations, he managed to repel a strong effort by Boeing’s sales team to steal away an A330neo order from AirAsia. As a concession, it looks like Schulz will agree to cancel a parallel AirAsia order for 10 A350s.

“Air Shows are all about a lot of adrenalin, a lot of last-minute stuff, changes, negotiations and turnarounds,” Schulz said.

Mitsubishi aircraft flew its MRJ regional jet in the Farnborough flying display, but with two years of flight tests still ahead, did not make any sales.

The sales tallies

Boeing came into the Air Show with 460 net firm orders for the year compared to 206 for Airbus. The  European jetmaker also won an agreement from JetBlue just before Farnborough to buy 60 of the new A220s.

During the Air Show, Boeing added a further 532 orders and commitments, while Airbus added 431.

Breaking down those totals further, Boeing won new orders and commitments at the Show for 112 of the bigger and more expensive widebody jets, including that big haul of cargo freighters.

Airbus won new orders and commitments at the Show for just 67 widebody jets.

Adding all the orders and commitments announced at the Air Show, plus those 60 JetBlue A220 commitments just ahead of the Show, to the net firm orders booked in the first half of the year, Boeing has a grand total of 992 orders and commitments to 697 for Airbus.

In easy round numbers, that’s almost 1,000 for Boeing to almost 700 for Airbus.

That healthy Boeing sales lead for the year could have been bigger were it not for the trade tension between the U.S. and China. With President Donald Trump talking tough and imposing tariffs, the Chinese airlines have held off on Boeing orders that will probably come later but are being withheld to make a political point.

Boeing had zero orders from China among that 460 net orders in the first half of the year and none during the Air Show.

It isn’t easy to track precisely, but of the 266 Airbus orders in the first half, more than 60 appear to be from China. At the Air Show they added at least another 10 planes from China.

During the Airbus closing press conference on Thursday at Farnborough, Schulz explained the high number of unidentified customers in the various order announcements by saying that the political climate and the incipient trade wars are making some airlines reluctant to identify themselves in sales that “could be perceived as political.”

“The fact that every morning the world is waking up to see what tweet has hit what part of the world is not helping,” he said.

And yet, unidentified and otherwise, both jetmakers ended the Air Show with very robust sales.

Boeing CEO Muilenburg said on the eve of the Air Show that the negative political climate over global trade is showing no sign yet of slowing the aviation industry’s boom, largely led by low-cost carriers in emerging countries like Vietnam.

“While we’re concerned about some of the ongoing talk about tariffs and trade restrictions, we haven’t see actions yet that have had a material effect on our business,” Muilenburg said.