Boeing plans higher-capacity version of 737 jet

Sun Jul 13, 2014 11:35am EDT
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By Tim Hepher

LONDON (Reuters) - Boeing (BA.N: Quote) plans to bring out a new minor model of its best-selling 737 passenger jet with extra seats, the head of its planemaking division said, stepping up efforts to woo low-cost carriers in competition with Europe's Airbus (AIR.PA: Quote).

Announcing the move on the eve of the Farnborough Airshow, the head of the U.S. planemaker's jetliner branch said on Sunday the 200-seat variant would be five percent cheaper to operate.

It will be certified to hold 200 passengers which is 11 more than the maximum allowed in the most popular version of the 737, Boeing Commercial Airplanes Chief Executive Ray Conner said.

Boeing will add an extra door behind each wing to allow an increase in the maximum of seats which, under safety rules, is closely tied to the number and layout of evacuation points.

Airbus last month announced a similar drive to increase capacity on its A320 passenger jet family as airlines seek to drive down costs per seat.

Planemakers compete aggressively for orders of single-aisle, medium-haul jets and are producing at record levels.

More seats also mean lower operating costs per seat - the key driver of aircraft economics.

Airbus has said it will increase the certified maximum number of seats for its A320 model to 189 seats from 180 seats.   Continued...

Boeing 737 fuselages are delivered by train to a Boeing manufacturing site in Renton, Washington February 26, 2014. REUTERS/Jason Redmond