Boeing starts marketing 777X to buyers as new jet nears approval2 min read . Updated: 02 May 2013, 08:25 PM IST
Competition from Toulouse, Airbus is pushing Boeing to move ahead with the 777X, say analysts
Dallas: Boeing Co. has started to market an upgraded version of its 777 jet to buyers, including holding talks on pricing and scheduling, as the planemaker moves closer to board approval for producing the wide-body aircraft.
The timing for final approval for building the 777X, as the new variant is called, will depend on market response, said Karen Crabtree, a Boeing spokeswoman, in a telephone interview on Wednesday. Boeing continues to target entry into service for the plane near the end of the decade, she said.
Boeing is taking the next step—engaging in the marketplace, discussing more details and offering the airplane to customers, Crabtree said. “We’re aggressively moving right now per our plan. Customers are pretty happy with what they’re seeing."
Boeing is betting an upgraded version of the 777, its best- selling twin-aisle aircraft, will cement its lead in the large jet market. The plane will have composite-plastic wings and new engines to give it more efficiency and range, the Chicago-based company has said.
Competition from Toulouse, France-based Airbus SAS is pushing Boeing to move ahead with the 777X, said Ken Herbert, a San Francisco-based analyst with Imperial Capital LLC who rates the stock in-line, the equivalent of hold. Airbus is planning to perform the first test flight of its new wide-body A350 by the middle of this year.
‘ Market Pressure’
“There’s market pressure on them to get this done and I think they’re taking the right step," Herbert said. “Boeing knows they have to do it. They can’t wait."
Large customers of the twin-engine 777, such as Dubai-based Emirates, have been pushing Boeing for more information on the new aircraft, Herbert said. Besides pricing and scheduling, Boeing will be discussing technical aspects of the 777X with customers, Crabtree said.
Boeing signaled in March that it was ready to move ahead with the upgrade when it named Bob Feldmann as vice president and general manager of the 777X project. Feldmann had overseen the development of the single-aisle 737 Max, a new version of Boeing’s best-selling aircraft.
“The 777X is likely to generate enthusiasm among airlines and leasing companies as the new wings and engines add to the current plane’s performance," Herbert said.
“It’s starting from a very good base," he said. The 777-300ER is a phenomenally successful and popular airplane, he said, referring to the best-selling version of the jet.
Boeing’s board approved marketing of the 777X during an 29 April meeting in Chicago, according to the Wall Street Journal, which cited a person familiar with the decision.
Crabtree declined to comment on whether the board had given the approval. Bloomberg