Boeing is confident that it can convince almost all Boeing 747 VIP customers to buy the -8 varant of the jumbo.
There are around 25 of the older variants of the 747 - including the -200, -300, -400 and SP - in service, says Steve Taylor, president of Boeing Business Jets. Most are in the Middle East, with some having been in service for over 20 years and needing to be replaced gradually over the next few years, he adds.
"The 747 remains the best aircraft in this large-aircraft VIP segment, which is targeted at the heads of states, especially in the Middle East," says Taylor. "This replacement programme is not an immediate thing and will evolve slowly. But we are confident that the vast majority of these aircraft will be replaced by the 747-8."
Boeing has sold nine 747-8s in the VIP configuration and will have delivered seven by the end of 2012. Rival Airbus has not been as successful with its attempts to propose the A380 as a potential 747 replacement in the VIP segment, having sold only one aircraft to a customer who has not managed to find a completion centre.
"The reality is that the A380 is not very successful as a VIP aircraft," says Taylor. "We really do not view it as a significant competitor to our product."