Boeing expects B747-8 success in Asia
By Lu Haoting (China Daily)
Updated: 2006-05-17 06:40

Boeing is expecting to get the first order for its brand new B747-8 passenger airplane later this year, a senior company official said yesterday.

The Chicago-based aircraft maker believes the new model, which was launched last November, will eat into the market for the A380, made by Europe's Airbus.

Boeing said its super jumbo would add to momentum it built last year, when it regained a sales lead over its arch-rival Airbus.

"We named this new plane B747-8 because eight is a lucky number in Asia and we expect over 50 per cent of the demand for the aircraft will come from Asia," said Randy J. Tinseth, a vice-president at the firm.

China will need 75 B747-8-sized aircraft over the next 20 years, Tinseth added.

The new passenger jet, also called the B747-8 Intercontinental, is a lengthened version of the B747-400. It has 450 seats in a three-class configuration. It's the world's only jetliner in the 400- to 500-seat market.

By using technology used on the B787 Dreamliner, the new jetliner is expected to provide equivalent cost savings, 9 per cent lower seat-mile costs and 21 per cent greater cargo volume, than the B747-400.

Boeing will start assembling the B747-8 Intercontinental in mid 2008, with the first jet to be delivered in 2010.

"The B747-8 and A380 have different sizes and will not compete directly. That definitely helps our position in the market," Tinseth said.

Analysts said the B747-8 would play an important role in Boeing's international competition with Airbus in the large-sized aircraft market.

Boeing predicts that the world will need more than 900 400-seat or larger planes over the next 20 years. Airbus believes the market for jumbo jets is 1,700 planes in the next 20 years.

When Boeing launched the B747-8 programme last year, it received firm orders for 18 B747-8 Freighters 10 from Cargolux of Luxembourg and eight from Nippon Cargo Airlines of Japan.

The combined value of those initial orders is approximately US$5 billion.

The B747-8 Freighter is 5.6 metres longer than the B747-400 Freighter and its ton-mile costs are 15 per cent lower than its predecessor. The first B747-8 cargo jet will be delivered in 2009.

Airbus has received 159 orders for the A380, including orders for 27 freighters, from 16 airlines.

The first A380 will be delivered to Singapore Airlines by the end of this year.

China Southern Airlines has ordered five A380s and will receive its first double-decker in the last quarter of next year.

Airbus is to hold an A380 seminar in Guangzhou today. Five specialists in the A380 programme will introduce the plane.

Boeing recorded 1,002 net commercial airplane orders in 2005, setting a new company record for total orders in a single year.

The 2005 total surpasses its previous record of 877 net orders in 1988.

Airbus received 1,055 net orders last year, but the total value of its orders was less than that for Boeing due to Boeing's successful sales of wide-body twin-engine aircraft B787 and B777.

(China Daily 05/17/2006 page10)

(For more biz stories, please visit Industry Updates)