NEW YORK (MarketWatch) — Boeing Co. secured a 200 commercial aircraft order from China worth $19 billion on Wednesday, helping the manufacturer head off market gains by its European rival Airbus.
The orders were already in the Boeing /quotes/comstock/13*!ba/quotes/nls/ba (BA 71.64, -0.06, -0.08%) commercial backlog, but required Chinese government approval before payment and delivery. Delivery of the jets begin later this year and through 2013.
“This is the largest announcement of Chinese government approval of a Boeing commercial airplane order,” said Boeing spokesman Marc Birtel, in an email.
Securing the deal followed a long period of negotiations between the U.S., Boeing and China that likely included offsets, such as an agreement to purchase certain goods or services from the buyer, or to directly invest in the country’s economy.
Talks were concluded this week after the White House said Boeing, Honeywell International /quotes/comstock/13*!hon/quotes/nls/hon (HON 54.07, -0.27, -0.50%) and Pratt & Whitney agreed to provide Air China with the technical support it needs to begin biofuel flights. Read more about the China export deals with the U.S.
Boeing said the agreement underscored increased cooperation on renewable energy development between the U.S. and China, and demonstrated progress in the effort to create a more sustainable future for air travel.
“I think this was payback for all the investments Boeing has made...but all this positioned them as a provider that’s attractive to China.” said Wayne Plucker, an aerospace analyst with Frost & Sullivan.
“Airbus had a number of successive wins with China, and that’s not a market you want to lose in,” he said.
More than half of China’s orders for new aircraft have gone to Airbus over the last seven to eight years, Plucker said.
As of December, Boeing had delivered 662 planes to China, with 256 planes remaining in its backlog. Airbus has sold 738 aircraft to China since 1985.
Shares of Boeing declined 1% to close at $71.73, but the stock is up about 18% in the past year as the global economy strengthened and air traffic demand increased.
U.S.-traded shares of Airbus parent company EADS /quotes/comstock/24s!e:ead (FR:EAD 20.95, 0.00, 0.00%) /quotes/comstock/11i!eadsy (EADSY 28.10, -0.75, -2.60%) slipped 2.5%.
China is projected to purchase some 4,330 new commercial planes over the next 20 years, valued at more than $480 billion, and will be Boeing’s largest customer.
The Communist government approved Wednesday the delivery of 185 Boeing 737 jets worth $15 billion and 15 Boeing 777s worth $4 billion.
“This was a very important deal for Boeing,” said Gleacher & Co. analyst Peter Arment, who reaffirmed his buy rating for Boeing stock with a $100 price target.
Boeing has been investing in China for nearly 40 years. In 2005, the company announced it would buy Chinese-made airplane parts and components worth some $600 million, including the first firm contract with suppliers to build parts for the 787 Dreamliner.
“With the outstanding support provided by the United States government, this deal is a win-win for the Boeing-China partnership which is approaching its 40th anniversary,” said Jim Albaugh, head of Boeing Commercial Aircraft.
Christopher Hinton is a reporter for MarketWatch based in New York.