Boeing is in discussions with key new potential customers, including Emirates, about 747-8 orders, with the airline understood to be closing on a major deal for the -8 Intercontinental passenger version.
According to industry sources, Boeing is confident it is close to securing additional airline orders for the 747-8I in the coming months to add to the sole existing deal from Lufthansa for 20 aircraft. More deals for the 747-8 Freighter are also imminent, say sources.
Boeing is in discussions with key new potential customers, including Emirates about the 747-8I
Emirates, which has orders for 10 747-8Fs for its cargo arm, has been in long-running talks with Boeing about a deal for the passenger version. Although the airline is Airbus's largest customer for the ultra-large Airbus A380 with 47 on order, it has a need for a 400-seater for certain long-haul routes.
Chances of an early Emirates 747-8I deal were scuppered last year when the airframer traded range for capacity and stretched the aircraft slightly, as this prevented it from being able to operate Emirates' planned Dubai-Los Angeles route with a viable payload.
However, industry sources say that an Emirates 747-8I deal is back on, with the airline in talks for up to 20 aircraft and November's Dubai air show seen as the likely venue for any announcement.
Emirates president Tim Clark, who is understood to be visiting Seattle in the near future, told Flight International, flightglobal.com's sister publication: "We continue to persevere with Boeing on the 747-8I, but it's not as we want it yet."
Boeing declines to comment on the status of talks with Emirates, saying only that it is in "active discussion with approximately 15 airlines worldwide over the 747-8".
Other potential orders for the 747-8 passenger and cargo versions are under discussion with Asian carriers including Cathay Pacific Airways and China Airlines, which both have evaluations under way. The latter is understood to be the closest to a decision, with a deal expected by year-end, while Cathay Pacific is not expected to finalise its plans until early next year.
Meanwhile, sources say that the 747-8I is a serious contender at British Airways, where it is head to head with the A380 to replace the airline's older 747-400s. A decision is expected to be announced in the autumn.