Administration Lauds Boeing Jet Sale to Saudis

March 14, 2023 by Dan McCue
Administration Lauds Boeing Jet Sale to Saudis
(Boeing photo)

WASHINGTON — Saudi Arabia’s nearly $37 billion purchase of new Boeing passenger jets is yet another sign of the United States’ rebirth as a global manufacturing leader, Biden administration officials declared Tuesday.

Their enthusiastic assessment came just moments after Boeing announced that Saudi Arabia’s sovereign-wealth fund, the Public Investment Fund, intends to purchase 121 of its 787 Dreamliner passenger jets.

Under the terms of the agreements, Saudi Arabian Airlines, the national flag-carrier, will grow its long-haul passenger fleet with the purchase of 39 Dreamliners while holding an option to buy 10 more.

The remaining passenger jets are earmarked for Riyadh Air, a new state-run enterprise that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman unveiled on Sunday.

This agreement is part of Saudi Arabia’s wider strategic plan to transform the country into a global aviation hub, much as neighboring Dubai and Qatar are today. 

In December the country announced that it is building what will eventually be one of the world’s largest airports in its capital, Riyadh.

When completed, King Salman International Airport is expected to encompass some 22 square miles and have no fewer than six parallel runways.

The passenger jet order, which includes both the 787-9 and 787-10 models (the difference being size and passenger capacity), is the fifth-largest commercial order, by value, in Boeing’s history.

Just last month Boeing completed the second-largest commercial transaction in its history by sealing a deal to provide over 200 aircraft to support the expansion of Air India’s commercial fleet.

According to the White House, the Saudi and Air India purchases will support over 1 million U.S. jobs in the aerospace supply chain across 44 states.  

The most recent deals with Saudi Arabia alone support more than 140,000 American jobs at over 300 Boeing suppliers across 38 states, many of which do not require a four-year college degree, officials said.

“We are particularly pleased that Boeing was able to finally conclude these deals with Saudi Arabia after years of discussions, and intensive negotiations over recent months,” White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a written statement.

“Today’s announcement ensures that Boeing and General Electric (which is providing new, state-of-the-art engines for the aircraft) will anchor Saudi Arabia’s new international airline together with support for a new international airport,” she said.  

“This partnership is another milestone in eight decades of cooperation between Saudi Arabia and American industry,”  Jean-Pierre added.

Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo also commented on the deal, calling it “a clear win for American manufacturers and workers.”

“Moreover, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has selected GE Aerospace’s GEnx engine to power the aircraft, providing billions more in U.S. exports and supporting good-paying American jobs,” she said. “Agreements like the one announced today underscore the strength of America’s private sector, workers and technology in the competitive global landscape.”

Raimondo noted that it was President Franklin D. Roosevelt who provided King Abdulaziz al Saud with Saudi Arabia’s first airplane, a DC-3 Dakota, in 1945.

“Today’s announcement is a fitting tribute to an economic partnership between our two countries,” she said.

The purchase comes at a time when Saudi Arabia has been seen as testing the historically close ties with the U.S. to which Raimondo made reference. Just this past Friday it was announced that Saudi Arabia and Iran agreed to resume diplomatic ties in a deal mediated by China — a deal some fear threatens U.S. primacy in the region.

Jean-Pierre made no mention of that agreement in offering the White House response to the Boeing deal, saying only, “Our administration looks forward to working with Saudi Arabia and all partners in the Middle East to support a more prosperous, secure, and integrated region, which ultimately benefits the American people.”

Dan can be reached at [email protected] and at https://twitter.com/DanMcCue

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