Japan Airlines has dropped its 787-3 order in favour of the longer-range 787-8, leaving just one customer for the short- to medium-haul type designed for Japanese airlines requiring a high-density configuration with a trimmed wingspan for use at space-constrained gates.
The backlog for the -3 now stands at 28, with remaining customer All Nippon Airways converting two -3s to -8s as well.
However, Boeing marketing vice-president Randy Tinseth says the airframer remains committed to building the 787-3.
And the Chicago Tribune has reported that United Airlines is considering replacing its 757, 767 and 777 fleets with 787s - including -3s to replace 96 757-200s used on routes of around 4,600km (2,500nm).
Teal Group analyst Richard Aboulafia says Boeing can feasibly market such an aircraft, although the technical execution is "highly uncertain" as the basic 787 airframe optimised long-range performance, not short-haul routes.
Boeing initially planned for the 787-3 to be the first variant after the -8, but postponed development to refocus resources on resolving design and production issues with the -8 and moving forward with the -9.
Tinseth adds that another possible replacement for the 757 could be a "light twin-aisle" aircraft built into an offering that could cover the upper part of the 737 replacement market.
He believes there is demand for an aircraft seating around 200 people with a 7,400km range, but says it is not clear whether such an aircraft can be produced economically.