Boeing set to confirm plans for larger 787 Dreamliner: sources

Thu Jun 13, 2013 9:11pm EDT
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(Reuters) - Boeing Co (BA.N: Quote) is poised to launch a larger member of its 787 Dreamliner jetliner family to meet demand for long-haul travel within Asia and other long-haul routes, sources told Reuters on Thursday.

Long-discussed plans for a 323-seat version of the 787 are likely to be formally announced at next week's Paris Airshow, the sources said, confirming a Wall Street Journal report.

"We have no comment on the report but we are engaged in discussions with customers on a potential new member of the 787 family," a Boeing spokesman said.

The arrival of a new 787 version has been well anticipated, especially after Singapore Airlines Ltd (SIAL.SI: Quote) recently made a provisional commitment to buy the new $300 million plane if Boeing decided to go ahead and build it.

Boeing's plans attracted attention on the eve of the maiden flight of the Airbus A350, which will compete for many of the same buyers. Both aircraft are made of lightweight carbon composites to help airlines save fuel. The A350 is expected to take to the skies in Toulouse, southwestern France on Friday.

British Airways parent IAG (ICAG.L: Quote) has an option to buy more Dreamliners and there has been speculation it will use some of these to buy the larger version, known as the 787-10.

U.S. lessor Air Lease Corp (AL.N: Quote) has been offering suggestions on the design and has publicly expressed interest in the 787-10. United Airlines (UAL.N: Quote) has also backed it.

The sources, who asked not to be named, said other airlines could also be part of an early pool of buyers to give the plane a commercial boost. Later, Germany's Lufthansa (LHAG.DE: Quote) is expected to look closely at the plane, they said.

The "stretched" 787-10 will have a longer fuselage and carry more passengers than the two Dreamliner models currently on the market, but offer less range. Boeing says that will suit airlines flying regional traffic across Asia or serving many points between continents.   Continued...

Boeing 787 Dreamliner belonging to Polish airline LOT takes off from the Chopin International Airport in Warsaw June 1, 2013. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel