Boeing has been eating Airbus's lunch this year and $55.3 billion in new deals this week confirms it

A QANTAS Boeing 747 flies low past buildings and industrial sites on its final approach to Sydney airport. Image: iStock
  • Airbus and Boeing have landed three mega-deals this week for a total of 695 planes worth $US92 billion ($AU121.2 billion).
  • It’s the latest chapter in the sales battle between the two manufacturers.
  • Before the 2017 Dubai Air Show, Boeing was leading 690 planes sold to 343.
  • Airbus has closed the gap with the single largest order in company history.

The 2017 Dubai Air Show has become the aviation industry’s showdown in the desert.

Here’s a quick walkthrough of the massive deals that have been announced in the past 4 days.

  • Boeing landed a $US15.1 billion ($AU19.9 billion) order for 40 787-10 Dreamliners from Emirates on Sunday.
  • The American manufacturer won another deal from Fly Dubai, the city’s low-cost carrier, for 225 737MAX jets worth $US27 billion ($AU35.6 billion) on Wednesday.
  • Also on Wednesday, Airbus won a $US49.5 billion ($AU65.2 billion) order from Indigo Partners’ portfolio of low-cost airlines that include Frontier, Wizz Air, Volaris, and JetSmart.

In just three deals, 695 planes were sold with a book value of $US92 billion ($AU121.2 billion). It’s true that none of these big announcements are quite as firm as they seem. These orders will take years to fill, and the headline price doesn’t reflect the substantial discounts that aircraft makers offer in order to land such mega-deals.

For instance, Indigo Partners likely received a discount in the neighbourhood of 45% to 48%, Airways senior business analyst Vinay Bhaskara told Business Insider.

But even with that factored this, Dubai’s airshow has become a highlight of this year’s race for sales supremacy between the two companies. Overall, Boeing has been eating Airbus’s lunch so far this year, out-selling the Toulouse, France-based planemaker by 690 to 343.

Politically shrewd

Boeing’s success in Dubai is no accident.

For the Government of Dubai, the 265 jets its airlines agreed to buy from America’s largest industrial exporter is a not-so-subtle show of the Emirate’s impact on the US economy. It will serve as an important counterpoint to the ongoing complaints from the three US legacy airlines which are lobbying to change air transport agreements that have et the Middle East’s three big carriers compete for US passengers.

That wasn’t lost on Boeing when it announced the deal FlyDubai deal.

“The deal represents the largest-ever single-aisle jet order — by the number of aeroplanes and total value — from a Middle East carrier,” Boeing said in a statement.”When finalised, the purchase promises to sustain tens of thousands of direct and indirect jobs in Boeing’s U.S. factories and network of suppliers.”

‘End of an Era’

Fly Dubai Boeing 737 MAXFlyDubaiA FlyDubai Boeing 737MAX.

For Airbus, the 430-plane deal with Indigo Partners is a much-needed win after a year of struggling to keep up with Boeing. It’s an even bigger deal with the impending retirement of long-time sales boss John Leahy. The deal-making master is credited with creating the sales juggernaut that is Airbus. Which makes securing the largest single order in company history a fitting send-off for Leahy.

“It’s one of the few occasions where you can truly say it’s the end of an era,” Teal Group analyst Richard Aboulafia said of Leahy’s retirement.

All three deals are for state-of-the-art, ultra-fuel-efficient airliners. Although pricey, investment in these aircraft is meant to help these airlines operate and grow in a more efficient manner.

The Boeing 787 will give Emirates a level of flexibility and economy that its larger Boeing 777-300ER and Airbus A380 fleet could not approach. With Emirates and FlyDubai expected to have a much cozier relationship in the near future, the 737MAX will finally give Emirates access to a major narrow-body fleet. This allows the airline to turn over many of its shorter, less profitable routes to FlyDubai.

Low-cost profits

Airbus Indigo Partners A320neo FamilyAirbusThe Indigo Partners’ airlines.

Indigo Partners’ mega deal shows the continued growth in the low-cost and ultra-low-cost segment of the airline industry. Even though the order helps lift Airbus out of a sales slump, Indigo didn’t agree to this deal to be altruistic. The low-cost business is particularly cost sensitive and it’s a segment that cannot survive without a large number of new, fuel efficient, and reliable jets like the 737MAX and the A320neo.

For Indigo’s portfolio of airlines, the 430 aircraft deal not only satisfies its current needs but also gives it leeway to grow as fast as the business can manage.

As we approach the end of the year, expect more announcements as Airbus and Boeing shore up their annual sales figures. Stay tuned for more action.

Get the latest Boeing stock price here.

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