Boeing's campaign to restore the reputation of its best-selling plane after two deadly crashes suffered a blow with a Saudi airline canceling an order worth up to $5.9 billion in favor of a European rival of the US manufacturer. Flyadeal, the budget airline arm of Saudi Arabian Airlines Corp., ordered 30 A320neo jets from Airbus and took options on 20 more, meaning that its entire fleet will consist of planes from that company, the AP reports. The company canceled a December order of the same size with Boeing. It's a potentially troubling sign for Boeing, which has not seen customers divert orders to Airbus en masse. A small number of other airlines have threatened to cancel 737 Max orders since crashes off the coast of Indonesia and in Ethiopia killed 346 people. The Max has been grounded since March.
Officials with Indonesia's Garuda said in March that they were canceling the remaining 49 of a 50-jet Max order. Published reports suggest the airline and Boeing are in talks, however, and Boeing still lists the last 49 Garuda orders on its website. Similarly, the owner of Lion Air—the Indonesian airline whose Max jet was involved in the first fatal crash in October—vowed to cancel, but Boeing still lists the airline's 187 unfilled orders as active. Middle Eastern carriers Flydubai and Oman Air have also threatened to switch to Airbus. But Boeing still has more than 4,500 unfilled orders for the Max and customers, including three of the four largest US airlines, have given no hint that they plan to nix orders from Boeing. The company suspended deliveries of new planes in March but has kept the assembly line open at a reduced production rate.
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