BOEING Co is in talks with four airlines on orders for its redesigned 777X jetliner valued at as much as US$87 billion (RM274.92 billion) ahead of next month's Dubai Airshow, people familiar with the matter said.
The 255 planes under discussion include as many as 100 to 150 for Dubai-based Emirates, about 50 for Qatar Airways Ltd and as many as 30 for Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways, said the people.
Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd is weighing as many as 25 of the aircraft in a transaction that probably would come before the Dubai event, one of the people said.
The expo runs from November 17-21 and is often a showcase for long-haul jets like the 777.
An order haul in Dubai for the 777X would be a boost for Boeing years ahead of the jet's commercial debut, now targeted for the decade's end.
Boeing is betting that it can keep Airbus SAS at bay in the market for the biggest twin-engine jets by upgrading the current 777, not by building an all-new plane as its French rival is doing with the A350.
A purchase of 100 or more of the new 777s by Emirates would be Boeing's largest-ever initial tally, surpassing the 50-jet order valued at US$6 billion from Japan's ANA Holdings Inc to introduce the 787 Dreamliner in 2004, when the plane was still known as the 7E7.
"We will continue to evaluate all available aircraft models for our fleet needs," said Elin Wong, a spokesman for Cathay Pacific.
For the 777X, Boeing is adding 50 more seats to the largest current 777 variant, so it can seat as many as 400 people.
The redesigned plane will feature the biggest engines ever and a wider, fuel-saving wingspan that can be shortened by having the tips fold up after landing.
Fresh 777X sales would build on Boeing's momentum after Deutsche Lufthansa AG agreed last month to buy 34 of the planes.
While the 777X's list price hasn't been made public, the Lufthansa order implied a retail price of about US$340 million, according to Peter Arment, a New York-based analyst with Sterne, Agee & Leach Inc. "Buyers typically get a discount."
Emirates is likely to be the so-called launch customer, Robert Stallard, an RBC Capital Markets analyst, wrote in an October 28 note. The term refers to the first buyer to fly a new plane. Bloomberg