Jet Aviation Flight Services Boeing 787-8(BBJ) (35309/143) 2-DEER, ex-N28MS rests on the ramp at Victorville (VCV/KVCV) on August 10, 2016.
(Photo by Michael Carter)
Senior Boeing officials argued Wednesday that the jet-maker's Dreamliner 787 has put its early troubles behind it after more than 100 million people have flown aboard the wide-body jet.
"We fully acknowledge a challenging entry into service of the 787, but the 787 is now hitting its stride, " Bob Michael, a senior marketing manager at Boeing, told reporters at a special briefing on the manufacturer's Dreamliner program.
"Some 120 markets are now connected non-stop thanks to the 787," he added, citing the Dreamliner's greater range and fuel efficiency as driving factors.
Michael said the Chicago-based aircraft maker currently has 1,161 orders for Dreamliners on its books from 65 different customers.
That includes 153 orders for the 787-10 variation of the jet, he said, including 10 Dreamliners sold to unidentified super wealthy buyers or VIPs.
Michael said that 15 percent of the deals involve leasing companies, which build jet portfolios and eventually lease them to airlines as immediate or temporary needs arise.
Acknowledging what they called "softness" in the global market for huge wide-body jets like the Dreamliner, the Boeing officials nevertheless reiterated that they remain optimistic about increasing sales to Chinese airlines.
"If you look at the Chinese market, I'm not seeing any signs of weakness there. It's very hungry public that wants to travel abroad," said Ihssane Mounir, a Seattle-based senior vice president of sales for Boeing who serves customers in Northeast Asia.
"They didn't have that before in China. The middle class in China equals the population of the entire United States," Mounir added, citing recent Boeing deals with Air China and China Eastern airlines.
"You have a market this is under-served and continues to be under-served," Mounir added.
In April, Boeing said China Eastern Airlines finalized an order for 15 Dreamliner 787-9s. That deal was worth nearly $4 billion at current list prices.
Mounir said Boeing's partnership with All Nippon Airways of Japan as a launch customer has helped improve the Dreamliner's design, efficiency and reliability as an airplane.
"We could not have selected a better partner to go through the growing pains of a new program with," he said.
(Andrew McIntosh - Puget Sound Business Journal)