Boeing Lands Biggest Deal, Ever

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Lion Air, a private Jakarta-based airline, has signed a commitment to order 230 Boeing aircraft with a street value of $21.7 billion -- Boeing's latest clean-sheet design, the 787, is not represented in the order. The order consists of 201 737 MAX single-aisle airliners (aircraft that are expected to first enter service in 2017) and 29 extended range 737-900ER jets, plus options for 150 more aircraft. Even without the options, those figures make this the largest deal Boeing has ever negotiated with a carrier by number of aircraft and dollar amount. The deal coincides with a visit to Indonesia by President Obama ... and one potentially relevant lawsuit brought Wednesday by the Airline Transport Association.

The ATA is arguing that low-rate loan guarantees provided to overseas carriers like Lion Air allow those foreign airlines significant financial advantages in commercial competition. The lawsuit addresses its complaint against entities like Ex-Im Bank -- the one credited by Mr. Obama for facilitating Boeing's deal with Lion Air. ATA says Ex-Im allows foreign carriers to buy and finance jets at rates that may be half of those paid by U.S. carriers in similar transactions. Aside from the president's comments, it is not clear at this time what role Ex-Im played in the Lion Air Deal. The Wall Street Journal reported Friday that an Ex-Im Bank official said the bank's involvement did not yet include financial backing. At more than 460, Boeing's 2011 net order sheet has passed its estimate for production this year. Nearly all the orders are for 777 and 737 variants.