Recent orders from China Southern Airlines and Qatar Airways have brightened the otherwise gloomy picture of Boeing widebody orders in 2016. Prior to those announcements, Boeing had registered only 19 net new 787 orders for the year, and just six net orders for the 777/777X.
Through the end of September, Airbus had announced net orders for 30 A330s and 33 A350s since the beginning of 2016.
China Southern finalized an order of 12 787-9 Dreamliners on 12th October, valued at $3.2bn at current list prices. The new order strengthens the carrier’s expanding long-haul fleet. The deal takes the total 787 order book to 1,203, with the delivery of the 500th aircraft, to Air France, expected in November.
China Southern, China's launch customer of the 787, currently operates 10 787-8s. The aircraft have enabled the Guangzhou-based carrier to launch six new non-stop global routes, connecting Guangzhou to London and Rome in Europe, Vancouver in North America, as well as Perth, Auckland and Christchurch in the Oceania area.
China's largest airline by fleet size, China Southern Airlines currently operates 700 aircraft. By 2020, the airline expects to have a fleet of 1,000 aircraft with passenger traffic surpassing 160 million annually.
The China Southern order came just five days after a Qatar Airways order for 30 787-9s and 10 777-300ERs, accompanied by a letter of intent for up to 60 737 MAX 8s. The widebody orders are valued at $11.7bn at list prices. Qatar Airways currently operates a fleet of 84 Boeing 787s and 777s. It now has 105 Boeing widebody aircraft on order.