Boeing plans to further slow 747 jet production in 2016
By Alwyn Scott
SEATTLE (Reuters) - Boeing Co BA.N said on Wednesday it would slow production of its 747-8 jumbo jet by 23 percent to one per month starting in March, an effort to keep the production line running amid sluggish demand for the iconic, humped-top plane.
Boeing, the world's largest plane maker, is currently building 747s at a rate of 1.5 a month and had already announced plans to reduce the rate to 1.3 a month from September.
The company said the decision to slow production further was not related to Tuesday's announcement that President Dennis Muilenburg will succeed Jim McNerney as chief executive on July 1.
Boeing had been widely expected to slow production of its biggest plane in response to weakness in the cargo market. Those concerns were eased last week when Russia cargo airline Volga-Dnepr Group committed to buying 20 747s.
The U.S. Air Force said earlier this year that it would buy an unspecified number of 747s to update the Air Force One presidential fleet, also boosting the jet's prospects.
But last year Boeing logged no net 747 orders, setting up 2015 as a make-or-break year for the plane that was developed in the late 1960s.
Earlier this month, Boeing cut by 13 percent its long-range forecast for large wide-body aircraft, a category that includes its 747 and the Airbus AIR.PA A380.
Boeing expects 540 of these planes will be needed over the next 20 years, down from 620 it forecast in 2014. Continued...