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Orders mount for Boeing Dreamliner

December 28, 2007|From the Associated Press

CHICAGO — Boeing Co. said Thursday that it finalized a deal with British Airways, notching 790 orders for its long-awaited 787 Dreamliner plane during the last three years.

British Airways' order for 24 Dreamliners gives the plane one of the industry's most successful launches ever -- even though the airliner has yet to take flight.

The Chicago-based aerospace company expects to fly the first 787 around the end of the first quarter of 2008 and begin deliveries in late November or December. It expects to deliver 109 airplanes in 2009.

The 787, Boeing's first newly designed jet since the 777 began service in 1995, will be the world's first large commercial airplane made mostly of light, durable and less-corrosive carbon-fiber composites. Boeing says its new plane will be cheaper to maintain and will offer better fuel efficiency and more passenger comforts than planes flying today.

Analysts called the demand for the Boeing plane "unprecedented."

"This is a breakneck pace," Morningstar analyst Brian Nelson said. "The fact that it continues to get orders . . . represents great confidence that Boeing can build this plane and deliver this plane."

British Airways placed options for an additional 18 787s and purchase rights for 10 more.

The British Airways deal is worth $4.4 billion at list prices, although carriers usually negotiate deep discounts on sizable orders.

"This order is a vote of confidence from one of the world's leading global network carriers," said Marlin Dailey, Boeing's vice president of sales for Europe, Russia and Central Asia.

Meanwhile Thursday, Brazil's Gol Linhas Aereas Inteligentes said it exercised firm orders for 34 Boeing Next Generation 737-800s, completing the purchase option for 121 aircraft negotiated in October 2006. The carrier said it signed a contract for the acquisition of 40 additional aircraft for delivery in 2012-14.

Boeing's European rival, Airbus, has struggled with its double-decker flagship A380 and its mid-range A350. Wiring and other technical problems have delayed delivery of the A380 by two years.

Boeing postponed the launch of its 787 -- assembled with components manufactured largely by other companies -- by six months this year because of outsourcing snags.

Shares of Boeing fell $1.12, or 1.2%, to $88.88.

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