Guy Norris/LOS ANGELES Kevin O'Toole/LONDON

As Boeing prepares to reveal an official price for the 717, there are already indications that the 100-seat aircraft will sell for closer to $25 million, deflating hopes among airlines that it could be offered below $20 million.

When the aircraft was launched by McDonnell Douglas as the MD-95, the official list price was set in the $30-$34.5 million range, but since reconfirming the programme as the 717, Boeing has given broad hints that the figure would be revised downwards. A price of $18-20 million had gained wide circulation among airlines, but Boeing says that this is "bogus".

Airline sources now indicate that Boeing is offering the basic 717-200 100-seater to customers at a selling price of between $22.5 million and $24 million. On top of this, there could be another $500,000 for the option of a ventral stair, required by regional operators to hasten turnaround times.

Boeing declines to comment on price information, but company sources indicate that these are "negotiated" deal prices, and that the soon-to-appear list price will still be well above this level.

The price range would be broadly in line with the Aero International (Regional)Avro RJ, now the only comparable 100-seater in production. The RJ100 is understood to be selling in the range of $24-25 million, despite some heavy pressure from customers in the wake of rumours about the 717 price.

AI(R)sales chief Jeff Marsh believes that the 717 will mainly pick up the McDonnell Douglas DC-9 replacement market, while the RJ continues to find a niche among the regional carriers. Marsh believes that the 717's image as a "Boeing-family" aircraft is likely to see it run into problems over scope clauses between the major network carriers and their affiliates.

Source: Flight International