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Boeing’s 747 wins new orders — at last

Post by John Gillie / The News Tribune on March 4, 2013 at 12:33 pm |
March 4, 2013 12:36 pm

Boeing’s biggest jetliner, the newest version of the 747 jumbo jet, won a total of five orders Monday from two airlines.

The orders are a significant boost for the big plane, which has seen few orders in recent years.

Boeing announced that Hong Kong-based Cathay Pacific Airways ordered three 747-8 Freighters. Those planes are valued at about $1 billion at list prices. Airlines normally pay much less than those prices, however.

Cathay Pacific Boeing 747-8 Freighter
Cathay Pacific Boeing 747-8 Freighter

The Cathay order includes options for five additional smaller 777 Freighters. The new order will bring Cathay’s 747-8 Freighter roster to 13 aircraft when all are delivered.

The company also revealed that Air China has ordered two 747-8 passenger aircraft.  The Chinese carrier also announced orders for a single 777-300ER and 20 737-800 single-aisle planes.  An affiliated company announced orders for eight 777 Freighters.

All of those Air China orders are subject to confirmation by the Chinese government.

The 747-8 has sold slowly in the last five years in part because of a slow worldwide economy and competition from the even-larger Airbus A-380 super jumbo.

Last year, Boeing recorded only a single net order for the 747-8. In 2011 and 2010, the company’s order books show net losses of a single 747 order each year.  In 2009, net 747-8 orders were just two and in 2008, Boeing shows only three orders for the four-engine, long-range plane.

The 747-8 order backlog counting Monday’s orders is 72.  Analysts had been raising warnings that Boeing might be forced to drop its production rate for the 747-8 unless new orders emerged.

The 747-8 is the latest version of the pioneering jumbo jet, which first emerged in the late ’60s.  The 747-8 is larger, has new engines and wings and an upgraded interior compared with its predecessor, the 747-400.

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