DUBAI – Boeing Co. (BA) on Monday revealed the first leasing company buyers for its 787 Dreamliner jet, further boosting its lead over rival Airbus and sending its shares to a 4 1/2-year high.
The stock was the top gainer on the Dow Jones Industrial Average and accounted for 18.6 points of the blue-chip index's 20.8-point rise.
The deals bolstered Boeing's lead for the Dubai Air Show where they were announced. The are also the latest sign of a boom for the two biggest aircraft makers as airlines seek more fuel-efficient models.
The two are close to doubling orders booked in 2004. Since the show began on Sunday, Airbus and Boeing have announced orders worth a combined $22.5 billion.
"The solid orders from Dubai and the outlook for more good news in the short term should reassure investors that the global aerospace upturn is very much on track," Bank of America analyst Robert Stallard said in a research note, adding that he expected orders to peak this year.
Boeing, which also won a big Chinese order over the weekend, has grabbed $14.3 billion of orders so far at Dubai, compared with $8.24 billion for Airbus.
Boeing shares were up $2.26, or 3.4 percent, at $69.22 in afternoon New York Stock Exchange trade after hitting $69.47, their highest level since May 2001. EADS shares rose 0.5 percent.
Airbus, which remains the world's top commercial plane maker by deliveries, vowed to match Boeing in orders by the end of the year, although it now trails by more than 200 planes.
"We'll end the year 50-50," Airbus Chief Commercial Officer John Leahy told reporters. "I reiterate my forecast for 200 orders" for the European company's newest model, the A350, due in 2010.
Airbus only lists 25 orders on its Web site for the plane, being developed as a rival to Boeing's hot-selling 787 Dreamliner midsize aircraft due in 2008, but the company is trying to firm up other airlines' commitments.
Boeing has more than 700 orders this year, compared with about 500 for Airbus.
Airbus Chief Executive Gustav Humbert said market share for its own sake was not his aim. "As long as we stay in the 40 to 60 percent bar, we are satisfied," he said.
The lessor orders for the Boeing 787, previously attributed on its Web site to unidentified customers, are worth up to $4.6 billion at list prices.
Airbus also announced deals worth $4.6 billion for jets including the A350, its mid-sized A330-200s and the A320.
Leasing firm ILFC ordered 20 Boeing 787 Dreamliners. The deal was worth $2.7 billion and ILFC, owned by insurer American International Group Inc. (AIG), also took options on four more.
"I'm sure it's just the first in a series of orders," ILFC President and COO John Plueger told Reuters. "The market is driving toward the 787 and that's where we are heading."
New aircraft lessor Low-Cost Aircraft Leasing ordered six 787s and said it was close to finalizing a deal for nine more for a combined $1.9 billion at list prices.
The new leasing firm will get its planes beginning in 2009, a year before ILFC, and said it was close to announcing airline clients.
"The 787 is selling so fast people can't get slots, so we are very confident in demand," Low-Cost founder Clive Joy said. "We will lease only 787s and we think things we are going to do on the financing side, as well as in maintenance, are going to help remove barriers to entry for airlines."
India's Kingfisher Airlines, a low-cost carrier seeking to cash in on a fast-growing local market, gave Airbus a significant win, saying it would acquire 30 more A320s worth about $2 billion at list prices.
In June, Kingfisher, owned by liquor tycoon Vijay Mallya of UB Group, had signed contracts for 15 Airbus planes, including five superjumbo A380s, in a $3 billion deal.
Airline TAP Portugal also agreed to acquire 17 new Airbus planes worth $2.6 billion at list prices, the planemaker said.
On Sunday, Boeing landed a $9.7 billion deal to supply wide-bodied 777 planes to airline Emirates, its biggest-ever order from the Arab Gulf region.
Also on Sunday, the Chicago-based company scored a major order in China, which signed a deal to buy 70 smaller 737-family planes in a deal worth $4 billion.
Boeing and Airbus together notched up a record total of 1,162 orders in 1998, their Web sites showed. Barring a wave of late cancellations, 2005 looks set for a new record.
Bank of America's Stallard predicted that orders this year could reach 1,500.
Sales have benefited from low-fare airlines buying single-aisle planes as well as carriers shopping for fuel-efficient models like Boeing's 787 and Airbus' A350.
In the first two days of the show, a barometer for the Gulf's burgeoning airlines sector, the value of business announced is more than three times the level at the entire 2003 event.