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Boeing 737s in flight. Soon, we'll be seeing these even more often. Image source: Boeing.

It's been a long, long month since Boeing (NYSE:BA) last reported appreciable numbers of plane orders in its order book. This week, however, we finally saw Boeing move the needle, as plane orders leapt for the skies.

What Boeing told us this week
Boeing's latest update on airplane firm orders came out Thursday at noon, as it does most weeks. The tally this week, however, was bigger than in most weeks.

According to the company, Boeing received no fewer than 70 new plane orders in the final week of August -- each and every one of them a 737. Buyers included:

  • Chinese discount airline Ruili, which ordered 30 of Boeing's 737s.
  • Jet2.com Ltd, a smallish British airline that, according to S&P Capital IQ, was formerly known as Channel Express (Air Services) Limited. They ordered 27 single-aisle 737s.
  • The United States Navy ordered nine 737s, which will be converted into P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft.
  • Australia ordered four more 737s, also for conversion into P-8A Poseidons.

On the bad-news side of the ledger, Boeing suffered four cancellations of orders for 747 jumbo jets. Financially speaking, though, Boeing is still "up" for the week.

Pulling a model at random (because Boeing does not specify in its order book), let's say all 70 of these new firm orders were for 737 MAX 8 airliners. At an advertised average list price of $110 million apiece, that's $7.7 billion in new revenue for Boeing. Minus $1.5 billion (the list price for four big 747-8s), Boeing comes out of the week ahead by about $6.2 billion.

The tally
So, where does this leave Boeing, here at the beginning of September? Year to date, Boeing has accumulated gross orders for:

  • 349 single-aisle 737s
  • 54 widebody 777s
  • 50 Dreamliner 787s
  • 48 Boeing 767s
  • Four 747s

In total, that's 505 gross plane orders. Boeing has also seen 58 orders canceled, however, and as we've discovered this week, that includes all four of those 747 Big Birds. This leaves Boeing with 447 net new plane orders on its order book.

What it means to the orders race
Boeing archrival Airbus ordinarily releases its own plane order tallies monthly, not weekly, and usually on or about the fourth of the month. So, we should be getting an update from Euro-land any moment now. For the time being, though, Airbus' gross orders year to date remain where they were at the end of July: 408 gross orders, 41 cancellations, and a net order tally of 367 planes.

For the time being, Boeing retains its lead.

Rich Smith does not own shares of, nor is he short, any company named above. You can find him on Motley Fool CAPS, publicly pontificating under the handle TMFDitty, where he's currently ranked No. 260 out of more than 75,000 rated members.

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