Boeing sells 78 Dreamliner aircraft to Saudi airlines


Boeing said Tuesday it reached a deal to sell 78 of its 787 Dreamliner jets to two Saudi airlines, the last major order for the wide-body jets in the past few months.

The jetliners will go to Saudi Arabian Airlines, or Saudia, and a new airline called Riyadh Air, which Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman announced this weekend. Saudia has ordered 39 of the aircraft, with options for a further 10, and Riyadh Air will receive 39 of the two largest models of the aircraft, with options for a further 33.

Boeing has not disclosed a timeline for the delivery of the aircraft. The White House said the order is worth nearly $37 billion, though that figure doesn’t account for discounts airlines usually get, especially for large orders.

“This supports the country’s goal of serving 330 million passengers and attracting 100 million visits by 2030,” Riyadh Air said in a press release.

An employee works on the tail of a Boeing Co. Dreamliner 787 aircraft on the production line at the company’s final assembly plant in North Charleston, South Carolina.

Travis Dove | Bloomberg | Getty Images

The sale shows demand for a pick-up for wide-body aircraft, aircraft used for long-haul flights that command a higher price than the more common narrow-body jets.

Riyadh Air is owned by the country’s sovereign wealth fund and will be led by Tony Douglas as CEO, a longtime industry veteran and former CEO of Etihad Airways.

“The ambition here in the kingdom is huge,” Douglas said in an interview with CNBC’s “Squawk on the Street.” “There will be more [aircraft] orders, to exclude any doubt.”

He said the order will help Saudi Arabia connect to 100 destinations.

In December, United Airlines agreed to buy at least 100 Dreamliners from Boeing and last month Air India placed an order for 460 Boeing and Airbus aircraft.

Boeing will resume deliveries of the Dreamliner aircraft this week after a weeks-long hiatus due to a data analytics issue it disclosed last month. CEO Dave Calhoun told CNBC on Tuesday that the resumption of deliveries “is imminent.”

Boeing shares rose about 4% on Tuesday, outpacing the wider market.

The airline said later on Tuesday it had delivered 28 aircraft in February, 24 of which were 737 Max aircraft, up from 22 total deliveries a year earlier.

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