Boeing has high hopes for 7E7
Boeing, the US aircraft manufacturing giant, is talking with major Chinese airlines interested in purchasing 7E7 - the super-efficient long-range jetliner that could help Boeing beat off Airbus to return to the top of the industry.
"Boeing and China are working to produce and operate 7E7 together," said Alan Mulally, president and CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes Group, at a press conference in Beijing over the weekend.
"Our goal is to have this plane fly into Beijing before the 2008 summer Olympics Games."
Mulally came to Beijing last week to visit government officials and CEOs from domestic airlines.
The visit came days after Olivier Andries, a senior vice-president of Airbus, flied to Beijing to promote A380 - the double-deck 555-seat super jumbo jet.
The two companies are stepping up their campaign in the Chinese market, which in the next two decades is set to become the world's second largest aviation market after the United States. Boeing is betting its future on the long-range 7E7, while Airbus will compete with the bigger A380.
Both of the companies see the huge influx of travelers for the 2008 Olympics as opportunities for them to court Beijing to buy their next-generation jetliners.
Airbus's A380 is scheduled to go into service in 2006, while Boeing's 7E7 is slated for a launch sometime in 2008.
"Most (Chinese) airlines flying 767s and 777s are talking to us now about launching the 7E7, plus a few more," said Mulally.
He said Chinese airlines are interested in the so-called "dreamliner" because the 7E7 is about the same price as the 767, but flies higher, faster, further and more fuel-efficiently.
By the end of last year, 23 Boeing 767 and 19 Boeing 777 has been in service in major domestic airlines including Air China, China Eastern and China Southern.
Emphasizing the three-decade long relationship with China's aviation industry, Mulally is optimistic about the 7E7 in the competition in China.
"The 7E7 brings something that A380 can not bring - that is the ability to go long range point-to-point.
"Nobody knows this better than the Chinese airlines. ..We ask airlines which you would like us to make: would you like a bigger 747 or would you like a 7E7 which is more efficient to go long-range," said Mulally." "They told us clearly 'we would like dreamliner'."