Zhuhai10: Boeing positive about Chinese narrowbody market despite C919 challenge

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Boeing's narrowbody chief remains confident about the company's prospects in China, on the same day that five of the company's customers ordered the Chinese competitor to the 737.

Boeing 737 customers Air China, China Eastern, China Southern, Hainan Airlines and General Electric Capital Aviation Services were part of a six-customer 100 aircraft launch order for Comac's two-class 156-seat C919.

"We still think there's going to be a tremendously strong market for the 737. Our Chinese customers love our products, they continue to buy our product and we believe they will in the future," says Beverly Wyse, 737 vice president and general manager.

China's domestic market is forecast to be the fastest growing in the coming years, with 7.9% year-over-year average growth between 2009 and 2029, according to Boeing's own assessment.

Seventy-one percent, or 3,090 of the 4,330 aircraft needed in China over the next two decades are estimated to be narrowbodies supporting the intra-China market.

"We recognize and totally respect China's right to enter this market. Competition has been really powerful for our industry as it continues to cause people to invest in their products," says Wyse.

While Boeing's chief competitor Airbus is approaching a year-end decision on whether or not to re-engine its A320 family, the US airframer has opted to hold off a decision on the future of its venerable narrowbody until 2011.

Boeing introduce a significant facelift to the 737's cabin with its new Sky Interior, which was first delivered to launch customer FlyDubai in October.

FlyDubai is one of more than fifty airlines and lessors who have selected the new interior, including Air China. Half of the airframer's 2011 deliveries will be fitted with the Sky Interior.

Boeing is currently flight testing a package of incremental improvements to the 737 including external drag refinements and will later fly an updated CFM56-7BE engine which will enter service in mid-2011.