Boeing has secured firm orders for its 737 Max from multiple Chinese airlines, and says that announcements for aircraft "in the hundreds" will soon be made.
Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines' assembly of presidents in Hong Kong, the airframer's senior vice-president of sales and marketing for northeast Asia Ihssane Mounir says that a number of Chinese customers will also be part of the launch group for the re-engined narrowbody.
"You will see existing 737 operators topping up with the Max and those which have never flown commercial airplanes before start out with Max. You may even hear about flips from those who used to fly [Airbus] A320s to start flying Max," he adds.
Declining to disclose the number of firm commitments, Mounir adds that though Chinese carriers order their aircraft in five-year cycles, the airlines in constant discussion with Boeing over their fleet plans.
"I understand fully what it is they require every year. We're prudent business people and we'll do what we have to do," he adds.
Presently, Chinese carriers only have a small number of narrowbodies on order for delivery through 2018, so their requirements for the 2016-2018 period "have not been filled entirely" he says.
Boeing has so far been tight-lipped about the sale of the Max in China. It forecasts that China will take delivery of over 2,700 narrowbody aircraft over the next 20 years.
Airbus, meanwhile, has said that it has secured firm commitments for at least 100 A320neos from Chinese customers and that discussions for several hundreds more are ongoing.