Boeing’s struggling jumbo jet program got a lift Thursday from a United Parcel Service order for 14 747-8 Freighters with options for 14 more.
With options, the order is valued at $10.6 billion at Boeing’s current average list price, though such fleet-sized orders are typically discounted.
A Boeing Commercial Airplanes spokesman confirmed that the order is new.
The UPS order is an important one for Boeing’s 747 product line, which in recent years has struggled to capture new sales from airlines that prefer the better fuel economy they can get from a two-engine widebody jet even with less passenger capacity. The 747 has four engines.
At the same time, Boeing has increased its focus on selling the airplane to air cargo companies, which have had their own struggles coping with lower demand.
In July, Boeing said in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing that it was scrapping plans to return to producing one 747 a month and would proceed in September to lowering production to one jet every two months. It cited several completed but unsold 747s and unsold production positions for the airplane as the reason.
Boeing spokesman Doug Alder Jr. said in an e-mail that the UPS order won’t change the 747’s production rate.
Spirit AeroSystems in Wichita manufactures the 747’s forward fuselage, wing leading edge and struts and pylons.