Boeing gets 747 boost as Russian firm signs up for more freighters
By Tim Hepher and James Regan
PARIS (Reuters) - Boeing (BA.N: Quote) won breathing space for its struggling jumbo jet on Wednesday with a preliminary deal for 20 of its 747-8 freighters from Russian cargo airline Volga-Dnepr Group.
The sharp increase in Volga-Dnepr's 747-8 fleet took the Paris Airshow by surprise and eased concerns over the latest version of Boeing's iconic jumbo jet, whose production is ticking over slowly due to a recent drop in sales.
The deal calls for Volga-Dnepr to provide expanded cargo services to Boeing itself, by ferrying parts to its factories.
The company's Antonov-124-100 transporters were recently used to lift shipments to Boeing plants in the Seattle area during a port strike and the mammoth cargo planes will provide permanent logistics support in future, the planemaker said.
"Volga-Dnepr provide a very good service for us in our production system and in turn they are acquiring the product from us, so it seems like a good way to have a partnership," Martin Bentrott, sales vice president for Middle East, Russia and Central Asia told Reuters.
Both Boeing and European rival Airbus (AIR.PA: Quote) have seen orders for their biggest planes dwindle as customers opt for improved twin-engined jets.
At Boeing, that has put a question mark over production of the 747, with analysts warning the company could face a $1 billion accounting charge if the program was shut down.
The U.S. group has made a concerted push for freighter orders to keep production going, industry sources say. Continued...