New Narrowbody Orders: On Your Marks…


Airframer sales teams will focus on securing orders for aircraft not yet in flight at this year’s Paris air show.  With less than three weeks to the start of the show, here’s how the order books look for the newest narrowbodies:

Airbus will go to Paris in the lead, currently holding 55% of the share of orders for new narrowbodies with its New Engine Option (NEO).

Boeing, meanwhile has a 35% share with 1315 firm orders for its new 737 MAX. 

While Boeing is behind Airbus by 753 firm orders and we’re all keen to watch the race between the two giants, let’s not forget that Airbus had a head start. The MAX was officially approved by Boeing’s board seven months after the NEO was launched. The first NEO order was announced on 17 January, 2011 while the first MAX order came eleven months later on 13 December, 2011.

20 airlines and lessors make up the order total for the MAX. The -8 derivative is the most popular with 885 on order, followed by the -9 with 400. The smallest of the MAX family, the -7, accounts for just 30 orders, all from Southwest Airlines which is the second largest MAX customer on Boeing’s books after Lion Air.

*Although not yet disclosed by Boeing, Aviation Week fleet analyst Bo-Goran Lundkvist has identified the 'undisclosed customer' for 50 aircraft as likely to be India’s Jet Airways.


Airbus has attracted attention for signing deals with airlines that were longtime Boeing customers including American Airlines, Lion Air and British Airways, but there are also some notable Airbus customers on Boeing’s MAX book.

United Airlines, which until nearly 80 years ago, was a subsidiary called the Boeing Air Transport Co, last placed an order for 737s all the way back in 1989, following that order it switched to Airbus A319/A320s as its preferred choice of narrowbody. 23 years later, after completing its merger with Continental, United placed a large narrowbody order with Boeing which includes 100 737-9 MAXs.

In smaller numbers, Singapore’s Silkair, currently a 100% Airbus operator with 23 narrowbodies in its fleet, has ordered 31 737-8 MAX aircraft and 23 737-800s.


Other aircraft a little closer to first flight than the MAX and NEO are Bombardier’s CSeries, Mitsubishi’s MRJ90 and Comac’s C919. Mitsubishi holds 4% of the new narrowbody market with 165 orders, tailed by Bombardier which has orders for 63 CS100s and 82 CS300s. The C919, with 95 orders, accounts for just 2% of all new narrowbody sales.


How will these numbers look in four weeks? Will Le Bourget be the stage for a shift in the Airbus vs. Boeing needle? And with a secondary race between Bombardier and Mitsubishi, who will come out on top? We’ll be tracking the orders before and during the show. Stay tuned for a final count in four weeks.

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