Boeing Launches Stretch Version of 777 With 31 Orders
SEATTLE (AP) _ The Boeing Co. Wednesday said it will start work on a longer version of its twin-engine 777 after four Asian airlines promised to order 31 jets and took options to buy another 31.
If all the options are exercised, the deals could be worth a total of $6.2 billion.
All Nippon Airways, Cathay Pacific Airways, Korean Air and Thai Airways International made commitments to buy the twin-engine jet, known as the 777-300X. Of the 31 order pledges, 20 are new and 11 are conversions of previous orders for the original version of the 777, Boeing said in a news release from the Paris Air Show in Le Bourget, France.
Purchase price for the 31 planes is about $3.1 billion, Boeing said.
The deals are not firm orders because Boeing’s board of directors has yet to approve the start of work on the stretch 777, said Valarie Kusuda-Smick, a Boeing spokeswoman.
The issue is on the board’s agenda for a meeting at the end of the month, she said.
The 777 is Boeing’s newest plane, entering commercial service earlier this month with United Airlines.
The basic model carries about 305 passengers in three classes; the stretched version will carry 368. With just coach class, the plane could carry as many as 550 passengers.
Japan’s All Nippon is adding 10 orders for 777-300X jets to its existing orders for 18 777-200s. Cathay, based in Hong Kong, is converting seven of its 11 777 orders to the stretched version.
KAL is ordering four new 777-300X planes and converting four of its existing eight orders for 777-200s. Thai, which has eight -200s on order, will order six new 777-300X planes.
In addition, Kusuda-Smick said All Nippon committed to taking options on 12 models, Cathay on 11 and KAL on eight.
The first 777-300X is scheduled for delivery to Cathay in the spring of 1998.
The new version would extend the 777-200 fuselage by 33 feet to a total of 242 feet, 4 inches, and would have a range of about 5,700 nautical miles to cover routes like San Francisco to Tokyo, Boeing said.
The current 777 production rate is about two a month, and the factory could handle as many as seven a month, Kusuda-Smick said.
The latest commitments boost the total number of 777 orders to 172.