Boeing Sells 78 Dreamliner Planes to Saudi Airlines

Travis Dove | Bloomberg | Getty Images
  • Boeing is selling 78 of its 787 Dreamliner planes to two Saudi airlines.
  • Demand for wide-body planes has picked up in recent months.
  • Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman announced the launch of a new airline, Riyadh Air, over the weekend.

Boeing said Tuesday it has reached a deal to sell 78 of its 787 Dreamliner planes to two Saudi airlines, the latest large 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 over the weekend. Saudia ordered 39 of the planes, with options for 10 more, and Riyadh Air will get 39 of the two largest models of the planes, with options for 33 more.

Boeing did not disclose a timeline for deliveries of the planes. The White House said the order is worth almost $37 billion, although that figure does not take discounts that airlines usually receive, especially for large orders, into account.

"This will support the country's goal of serving 330 million passengers and attracting 100 million visits by 2030," Riyadh Air said in a news release.

The sale shows a pickup in demand for wide-body aircraft, planes that are used for long-distance flights and fetch a higher price than the more-common narrow-body jets.

Riyadh Air is owned by the country's sovereign wealth fund and will be helmed 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, for the avoidance of 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 planes.

Boeing is set to resume deliveries of the Dreamliner planes this week after a weekslong pause resulting from a data analysis issue it disclosed last month. CEO Dave Calhoun told CNBC on Tuesday that the delivery resumption is "imminent."

Boeing shares ended up 1.9% on Tuesday, slightly outpacing the broader market.

The company later Tuesday said it delivered 28 planes in February, 24 of them 737 Max aircraft, up from 22 total deliveries a year earlier.

Correction: Boeing said Tuesday it delivered 28 planes in February. An earlier version misidentified the company.

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