When aircraft makers introduce new models at an airshow, they like to accompany the announcement with a basket of new orders.

On Monday, Boeing Co.  (BA) packaged its Paris Air Show introduction of the 737 MAX 10 not only with 240 orders from 10 customers, but also with something different: The increases in its stock price moved Boeing last week into the top spot of the 30 stocks in the Dow Jones Industrial Average.

During the week, Boeing shares gained nearly 3.4%, while Apple Inc. (AAPL) shares dropped 4.5%, moving Boeing into first.

At Friday's close, Boeing shares traded at $196.44, up 26% year to date, ahead of McDonald's Corp. (MCD) , up 24.87%, and Apple, which fell to third with a 22.84% gain. The Dow has risen 8.21% so far in 2017.

Boeing shares traded up $2.40 at $198.83 early Monday afternoon.

For Boeing, it is probably a day not to worry about the slowdown in the overall number of aircraft orders, particularly in the widebody segment, where Middle East turmoil has slowed growth at some of the biggest purchasers of widebody aircraft.

Boeing said Monday its new airplane, the 737 MAX 10, will have the lowest seat mile cost of any single-aisle airplane ever produced and will be available in 2020.

Among the early customers were India's SpiceJet, which ordered 40 MAX 10s, placing 20 new orders and converting 20 737 MAX 8 orders; GE Capital Aviation Services, which ordered 20 MAX 10s by converting existing MAX orders, and German tour operator TUI Group, which said it will convert 18 orders to MAX 10 orders.

"Airlines wanted a larger, better option in the large single-aisle segment with the operating advantages of the 737 MAX family," said Kevin McAllister, CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes, in a prepared statement.

The MAX 10 will deliver 5% lower seat mile costs than competitors, Boeing said. With the fuselage stretched five-and-a-half feet beyond the length of the 737 MAX 9, it can carry between 180 and 230 passengers. The MAX 9 typically seats 178.

The MAX 10 gives Boeing an entry in the increasing popular "MoM" or "middle of the market" segment, which defines aircraft that are neither traditional narrow bodies -- such as the 737 or the Airbus A320 with capacity for around 150 or more passengers -- nor are they larger widebodies.

The mid-market is "a growth market where Boeing won't let Airbus and potential Bombardier {dominate}, said Luigi Peluso, co-head of the aerospace, defense and airlines practice at consulting firm AlixPartners.

The introduction of the MAX 10 embodies a shift from a focus on "heavy widebodies to single-aisle aircraft with new technologies, with some being certified for the trans-Atlantic," Peluso said. "It will bring more competition on international routes."

Here's a running tally of Boeing and Airbus sales so far at the Paris Air Show.
Here's a running tally of Boeing and Airbus sales so far at the Paris Air Show.

The aircraft's introduction comes just hours after budget carrier Norwegian Air began operating trans-Atlantic Boeing 737 flights, operating from Stewart International Airport in New Windsor, N.Y.; Providence, R.I.; and Hartford to Scotland, Ireland, Northern Ireland and Norway.

Airbus is set to respond with a large order for its established large narrowbody competitor, the A321neo, Reuters reported Monday. The A321eo has a maximum capacity of about 240 passengers. Boeing has around 3,700 orders for its MAX family aircraft, but the A321 has strongly outsold the MAX 9, which will make its debut at the Paris Air Show.

Aerospace consultant Scott Hamilton, publisher of Leeham News and Comment, wrote, "The MAX 10 challenges the Airbus A321, which has outsold the 737 MAX 9 by a factor of three or four to one, depending on how orders are measured.

"The market demand for the MAX 10 is open for debate," Hamilton wrote in Leeham News and Comment. "Some analysts believe Boeing will sell between 200-300. Boeing believes it will be 1,000."

As for fuel economics, Hamilton said his analysis concludes that the two aircraft are largely equivalent.

This article is commentary by an independent contributor. At the time of publication, the author held no positions in the stocks mentioned.

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