The market for a "D-model" 747-8I designed for short-haul operations is "non-existent", says Boeing Commercial Airplanes marketing vice president, Randy Tinseth.

"We could do things in terms of going to a one-class interior," he says, "but we're not going to modify the airplane to make it. It kills the residual value...and you're really building a plane for a very small market and the question is, who would be willing to finance it? It's just at best a technically very, very, very small market."

Tinseth says the business case for such an aircraft has disintegrated as low-cost carriers have found greater efficiencies with higher utilization on smaller aircraft.

Compared to a narrow-body jet flying "nine or ten" flights in a day, says Tinseth, a large aircraft in similar operations can't justify the higher capital costs and extended turn-around times.

"You just can't make [a very large aircraft] efficient" in a short-haul domestic configuration, he says.

All Nippon Airways is today the world's sole operator of the 565-seat 747-400D, a winglet-less model designed for high-cycle operation for short domestic hops between major Japanese cities.

Japan Airlines, the only other carrier to operate the type, is phasing out all models of its 747-400s in line with its bankruptcy restructuring.

The 747-400D was designed specifically for the Japanese market and Boeing delivered 19 of the type to ANA and JAL between 1991 and 1995.

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news