Boeing’s biggest jetliner, the newest version of the 747 jumbo jet, won a total of five orders Monday from two airlines.
The orders are a significant boost for the big plane, which has seen few orders in recent years.
Boeing announced that Hong Kong-based Cathay Pacific Airways ordered three 747-8 Freighters. Those planes are valued at about $1 billion at list prices. Airlines normally pay much less than those prices, however.
The Cathay order includes options for five additional smaller 777 Freighters. The new order will bring Cathay’s 747-8 Freighter roster to 13 aircraft when all are delivered.
The company also revealed that Air China has ordered two 747-8 passenger aircraft. The Chinese carrier also announced orders for a single 777-300ER and 20 737-800 single-aisle planes. An affiliated company announced orders for eight 777 Freighters.
All of those Air China orders are subject to confirmation by the Chinese government.
The 747-8 has sold slowly in the last five years in part because of a slow worldwide economy and competition from the even-larger Airbus A-380 super jumbo.
Last year, Boeing recorded only a single net order for the 747-8. In 2011 and 2010, the company’s order books show net losses of a single 747 order each year. In 2009, net 747-8 orders were just two and in 2008, Boeing shows only three orders for the four-engine, long-range plane.
The 747-8 order backlog counting Monday’s orders is 72. Analysts had been raising warnings that Boeing might be forced to drop its production rate for the 747-8 unless new orders emerged.
The 747-8 is the latest version of the pioneering jumbo jet, which first emerged in the late ’60s. The 747-8 is larger, has new engines and wings and an upgraded interior compared with its predecessor, the 747-400.