Boeing enjoyed one of its best days at an airshow for years yesterday. Not only did it book orders worth $6.8 billion for civil aircraft but Commercial Airplanes boss Alan Mulally was upbeat about the order prospects for its slowing 767 and 747 lines that will delay any decision to end their production.
Mulally is certain Boeing's sales resurgence will see it wrenching back market leadership from arch-rival Airbus this year for the first time since 2000. He believes that once regained, Boeing will continue its leading position "over the next few years".
The manufacturer is also sounding more confident than ever about launching its 450-seat 747 Advanced.
The day began with India's Jet Airways ordering a mix of 777s and Next Generation 737s for $2.8 billion and GECAS spending $1.1 billion on 20 737NGs.
Later in the day, Mulally punched the air as one of his best customers, Steve Udvar-Hazy, chairman of ILFC, said he was buying 20 737NGs and eight more 777s in a $2.9 billion deal.
Mulally's grin grew even broader as Udvar-Hazy told a group on board the 777-200LR in the static park that he would buy 787s before the year is out.
It is aiming to take 787 deliveries from 2010-12; Udvar-Hazy said it already has customers lined up.
The lessor is talking with Airbus about its A350 but "right now the focus in on the 787 because of the aircraft's availability," he said.
In a recovering air transport market, Boeing believes it can win new orders for freighter and passenger versions of the 747-400 and for 767s soon. "Like the 767, we thought we might have to announce the conclusion of production of 747s later this year to stop it sometime in the future," said Mulally. "This is not going to be the case."
Keeping the 747 production line going will have the advantage of bridging the gap to the proposed 747 Advanced more easily, said Mulally. Boeing's board will review the business case for the 450-seater, which has 787-type powerplants, soon. "I anticipate making a decision on launching it in the latter part of this year," he said. If it does get the green light, the 747 Advanced will enter service in late 2008 or early 2009.
This year Boeing will deliver 320 aircraft and is looking at 375-385 deliveries in 2006. It is planning to increase production in 2007.
n Not to be outdone by Boeing, Airbus was able to announce more A350 orders yesterday with Kuwait-based leasing firm Alafco buying 12 A350s, with options on a further six.
Source: Flight Daily News