Boeing has decided to slow work on proposed smaller and larger versions of the 717 despite interest in the latter by major operator AirTran Airways.

The US manufacturer has welcomed AirTran's interest in the stretched 717-300 and says any move to convert the airline's options to the longer -300 would strengthen the business case for development of the derivative.

Until such time the company will slow work on the -300 and the proposed -100 shrink derivative, and focus on sales of the baseline 100-seat 717-200. Following the take-over by American Airlines, Trans World Airlines' 50 options have been removed from the 717 orderbook and the fate of 20 firm orders remains to be decided.

"Since TWA folded, we have retrenched," says director 717 product marketing Rolf Sellge. "If sales come through as planned, we will revisit the derivatives." At least two more sales will be needed before Boeing feels comfortable about restarting work on the 86-seat -100 and 130-seat -300.

Boeing has firm orders for 176 717s and commitments for 125 more, including 20 firm and 30 option aircraft for Midwest Express Airlines in a deal still to be finalised. The company has increased output to five a month for this year, but will slow production next year because of TWA's demise and Midwest Express' decision to delay the start of 717 deliveries to 2003.

Source: Flight International