Boeing won a firm order for 100 of its 737 Max 10 jets worth $13.5 billion at list prices from US carrier Delta Air Lines at the Farnborough Airshow, giving the Chicago-based plane maker a boost as it trails its European rival Airbus.
The order for the largest variant of the 737 Max family includes options for an additional 30 planes, the companies said in a statement on Monday.
If Delta firms up these options, it would raise the value of the deal to about $17.6bn in list prices, although airlines typically receive considerable discounts.
"The Boeing 737-10 will be an important addition to Delta's fleet as we shape a more sustainable future for air travel," said Ed Bastian, chief executive of Delta.
"These new aircraft provide superior operating economics and network flexibility and the agreement reflects our prudent approach to deploying our capital."
The 737 Max 10 jet, powered by CFM International's Leap-1B engines, will be 20 per cent to 30 per cent more fuel efficient than the retiring planes it will replace at Delta, the airline said.
Delta's endorsement of Boeing's largest single-aisle aircraft comes at an opportune moment for the US plane maker.
Its rival Airbus has exerted its dominance over much of the narrow-body jet segment, while Boeing is dealing with multiple issues: 787 production glitches, the 777X programme delay, obtaining regulatory approval for the 737 Max 10 and increasing sales for the 737 Max model that was grounded after two deadly crashes.
Delta, whose headquarters are in Atlanta, will start taking delivery of the first batch of jets in 2025. The new order will increase Delta’s 737 fleet to more than 300 by the end of the decade, it said.
The 737 Max 10 is currently awaiting final certification from the US Federal Aviation Administration, which is expected in 2023.
"In the event of a delay, the agreement has adequate protection in place, including allowing Delta to shift to another model of the Max family if necessary," the airline said.
Also at day one of this year's Farnborough Airshow, Boeing formalised an order by Japan's ANA Holding for 20 of its 737-Max 8 jets, with options for another 10 of the narrow-body type.
The airline also converted two orders for the 777X passenger jet to the 777X freighter, also known as the 777-8 cargo version, making it the first carrier in Asia to select the new freighter jet.
The Farnborough Airshow alternates with Paris each year as one of the world's biggest aviation events.
However, the flurry of big-ticket orders that typically dominates the first couple of days of the airshow is slower this year, as airlines emerge weakened from the two years of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Plane and engine makers are coming under increasing pressure from their customers to fix supply chain issues and deliver on time, while airports and airlines are grappling with operational problems due to labour shortages.