Nusa Dua. US President Barack Obama on Friday claimed a share of the credit as Boeing sealed its largest-ever commercial aircraft order to build 230 jets worth $21.7 billion for Indonesia’s Lion Air.
The deal, for 201 737 MAXs and 29 737-900 ERs, bolstered Obama’s strategic decision to orient the struggling US economy with booming markets in emerging Asia, which he sees as an engine of US jobs growth for years to come.
Obama officiated at the signing of papers sealing the deal between Boeing and Lion Air, a low-cost regional carrier, before plunging into a day of diplomacy with Southeast Asian leaders on the last leg of a Pacific tour.
“The US administration and the (Export-Import Bank) in particular were critical in facilitating this deal,” Obama said, saying such commercial successes were critical to his goal of doubling US exports to speed recovery.
“I want to congratulate Boeing for making outstanding planes, including the one I fly on,” Obama said, referring to his iconic presidential 747, at the ceremony on the Indonesian island of Bali attended by top US officials and Lion Air executives.
The president is in town for a Southeast Asian summit as well as Saturday’s wider East Asia Summit which he sees as the cornerstone of security engagement with a region where China’s rise is provoking searching strategic questions.
Boeing earlier said in a statement that the Lion Air deal would be “the largest commercial airplane order ever in Boeing’s history by both dollar volume and total number of airplanes.”
By the face value, it would also be the largest any aircraft maker has received.
The agreement, which will unfold over many years, also includes the option to order another 150 aircraft, which could put the eventual value at $35 billion.
Boeing spokesman Wilson Chow said the sale underscores the strength of the aviation market in the fast-growing Asia-Pacific region.
“According to our outlook, Asia-Pacific is one of our fastest growing markets areas… We’re expecting a seven percent growth of traffic per year for the next 20 years,” he told AFP.
He declined to give a timeframe for delivery of the aircraft, but noted that the 737 MAX will only be ready for delivery in 2017.