777 demand driven in part by A350 schedule concern: Boeing

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As it increases its overall jetliner production by 42% by 2013, Boeing says a portion of its 777 output increase is driven by a forecasted need to provide interim lift to carriers incurring possible delays to the Airbus A350 XWB.

Larry Loftis, 777 programme vice president and general manager says demand is currently being driven by customers aiming to ensure they have delivery positions in 2014 and 2015, and even 2016. But he also believes there is "probably a little [customer] concern about what the timing may be of the A350, but right now the predominant part of that is there is need for lift in the marketplace over the next three or four years that people needed to be filled."

Airbus announced in January it intended to push back the start of final assembly of A350 MSN001 to late 2011, but has not moved its planned first delivery to Qatar Airways beyond 2013. Industry analysts have forecasted a programme slip for the new majority-composite twin jet to 2014 or beyond.

The A350-1000, the largest member of the A350 XWB family is slated for a 2015 entry into service.

Boeing is ramping up 777 production to 7 per month mid-2011, followed by a further boost to 8.3 aircraft per month by first quarter 2013, allowing the airframer to deliver 100 of the large twin-engine aircraft each year, though Boeing holds just 253 777s in its backlog.

Boeing CEO Jim McNerney said 10 February the 777 "is going to be the unexpectedly strong story of this decade" adding that until the A350-1000 has more technical and schedule clarity "I think we're going to sell a heck of a lot of 777-300ERs."

Boeing has planned an increase in 737 output from 31.5 to 38 per month in the second quarter of 2013, 747 production from 1.5 to two in mid-2012, and 767 production from 1.5 to two by mid-year.