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Aeromexico to Purchase 70 New Aircraft
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July 10, 2012

Aeromexico is considering purchasing Boeing's 787-9 Dreamliner to improve fuel consumption and modernize its fleet. The carrier is also contemplating two of Airbus' wide-body jets.

Mexico City, Mexico - Grupo Aeromexico SAB is close to the purchase of about 70 mainly single-aisle aircraft, in what would be the biggest purchase yet by Mexico’s largest airline, according to people familiar with the talks.

The carrier is considering Airbus SAS’s A320neo and some A350 wide-body jets, as well as Boeing Co. BA’s competing 737 Max and 787-9 Dreamliner, said the source who asked not to be identified because the talks are private. Boeing has the upper hand after Commercial Airplanes Chief Executive Officer Ray Conner sent a team to Mexico to secure the order.

Aeromexico said in a filing to the Mexican stock exchange today that it is in talks to acquire narrow and wide-body aircraft, without saying which plane makers it is negotiating with. The airline seeks to improve fuel consumption and modernize its fleet and will provide more details if any deals are reached, according to the statement.

Boeing and Airbus are coming to this year’s Farnborough air show with more fuel-efficient versions of their best-selling single-aisle planes, after Boeing responded to the success of the A320neo last year at the Paris expo. Aeromexico sold shares to the public last year, and the carrier has arranged financing to expand its fleet.

Potential Deal

Aeromexico would consider splitting the order between the two manufacturers, the source said. Spokesmen for Airbus, based in Toulouse, France, and for Chicago-based Boeing declined to comment.

Airbus' A350 wide-body aircraft

Aeromexico shares rose 1.8 percent to 22 pesos at the close in Mexico City, for their seventh straight gain.

An order of 70 aircraft would be valued at about $6.67 billion, based on the $95.2 million price tag of the 737 Max 8. Customers typically buy airliners at a discount. The 787-9 has a list price of $227.8 million.

The potential deal is "positive for Aeromexico because of its size," said Pablo Duarte de Leon, an analyst with Corp. Actinver SAB in Mexico City. "It’s representative of the growth opportunities the airline sees in the local market and in the US-Mexico market," he wrote in an e-mailed response to questions. "In my opinion, the airline would be seeking the Boeing 737 Max 8 as a replacement for its 737 Next Generations."

Ex-Im Bank

Aeromexico reported first-quarter net income of 135 million pesos ($10 million) in April, on sales of 9.2 billion pesos. The company has received $171 million in financing from the Export-Import Bank to finance three 737s.

Winning Aeromexico as a customer would let Airbus pry open Boeing’s hold on the carrier’s fleet. The company operates Boeing 737s as well as 767 and 777 wide-body jets, according to its website. Aeromexico also has smaller Embraer SA (EMBR3) ERJ-145 and E190 jets.

Boeing has switched chief executive officers at its commercial aircraft unit, with former sales chief Ray Conner taking over from Jim Albaugh last month.