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Boeing tries to meet 777 demand

  • Associated Press
  • Published Friday, August 12, 2011, at 12:08 a.m.

Boeing booked 19 new orders for its 777 and said on Thursday that it needs to build its commercial planes faster to keep up with demand.

Boeing said unidentified customers ordered seven more of its 777s. Cathay Pacific ordered 12 of the planes late Wednesday.

Boeing now has a backlog of 293 of its 777s and more than 3,400 of all civilian planes. Some models are sold out for seven years.

"To me, a seven-year backlog is too much," said Jim Albaugh, who runs Boeing Co.' s commercial airplane division, speaking at an investor conference on Thursday. "When the market's good and you have customers coming to you, and they want airplanes in a year or two and you have to tell them to get in line, that's not a good place to be."

Boeing was making five 777s a month at the start of this year. It's up to seven per month now, and is aiming for 8.3 per month by early 2013. It is raising production of its 737 from 31.5 per month to 42 per month in 2014.

The new Cathay Pacific order includes four 777-300ER passenger planes and eight 777-200 freighters. Boeing said the order from Hong Kong-based Cathay Pacific is worth $3.3 billion at list prices, with the other planes worth almost $2 billion. Cathay Pacific said it got a "significant discount," which is common.

The new planes are expected to be delivered between 2013 and 2016.

The 777 freighters will replace older 747-400 freighters. The new planes are smaller than the 747, but they also burn 15 percent to 24 percent less fuel per ton than the 747 freighters, Cathay Pacific said.

The airline now has 36 777s on order and operates 35 777s.

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