Saudi Sovereign-Wealth Fund Close to Deal for Boeing Jets

DUBAI—Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund is close to a deal for a large number of Boeing Co. commercial jets that will serve in the fleet of a new national airline, people familiar with the matter said.
The Saudi sovereign-wealth fund is expected to announce the deal as soon as Sunday during an official launch of the airline, though the timing is still fluid, according to some of the people.
The Boeing aircraft order is valued at $35 billion, some of the people said. People with knowledge of the agreement said the mix is expected to include wide-body jets often used in long-haul international flying. Deals for new aircraft can fall apart even in their later stages.
Boeing and Airbus SE had been competing for the Saudi deal for months, people familiar with the matter said. The aircraft order is expected to create or support tens of thousands of jobs in the U.S., according to some of the people involved in the deal.
A potential Saudi order has been expected to involve as many as 100 airplanes or more, according to people briefed on the competition. Aircraft deals can include a mix of confirmed orders and options to buy more later.
In 2021, Saudi Arabia said it was planning to launch a second national airline as part of a wider plan to diversify away from oil. Saudi officials have previously said that the creation of another flag carrier would help the kingdom become a global business hub and compete with other Persian Gulf airlines. 
A Saudi deal with Boeing would come in the midst of recent signs of easing tensions and increased cooperation between the Biden administration and the Saudi government. The White House and the Saudi government didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment. 
The deal, if completed, would mark another sizable aircraft order for Boeing in recent months.
In February, Air India Ltd. ordered a total of 470 jets from the U.S. plane maker and its European rival, Airbus. That deal’s announcement involved President Biden, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and French President Emmanuel Macron.
The Air India deal, which included 220 new Boeing planes, was the largest commercial-jet order in aviation history and was valued at around $85 billion, based on the planes’ list prices that don’t include customary discounts. United Airlines Holdings Inc. said in December that it would buy 100 of Boeing’s 787 Dreamliners as part of a deal that included orders for the manufacturer’s smaller 737 MAX narrow-body jets. 

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