Boeing's mission to save the Boeing 757 production line from closure has begun to reap rewards with Shanghai Airlines placing a $410 million deal for five 757-200s for delivery in 2004 and 2005.

The first new order to be placed for the 200 to 230-seat twinjet family for more than 18 months provides a welcome boost, as the declining backlog threatens the long-term viability of the aircraft remaining in production. Only 12 have been delivered this year and production is running at less than two per month. The deal boosts the 757 backlog to 20 aircraft.

China has been a major market for the 757 in the past, with over 50 in operation. Boeing is hoping to land additional orders; Shanghai Airlines was one of several potential customers from the region targeted by Boeing for new sales, with the manufacturer having put offers for four 757s to China Xanjing Airlines, and three to state-run holding company China Aviation Supplies.

Shanghai Airlines, which already operates seven Pratt & Whitney PW2037-powered 757-200s, says some of the aircraft will be bought using funds generated from its October 2002 initial public offering. Others will be taken on operating or finance leases.

Three aircraft will be delivered in the first half of next year, with the final two following in early 2005.

Source: Flight International