Business

Boeing will halve jumbo jet production

  • 22 January 2016
  • From the section Business
747-8 Boeing Image copyright Boeing

The world's biggest plane maker, Boeing, will cut production of its 747-8 jumbo jet in half and take a charge of $569m (£397m) in its fourth quarter.

Starting in September Boeing will slow the production rate to six planes a year from twelve.

The four-engined plane is being overtaken in popularity by twin-engined craft which are more fuel efficient.

However, the 747 will still be used for the Air Force One presidential fleet, which is due to be upgraded.

'Dying'

"Basically, the 747 line is slowly dying," said Richard Aboulafia, an aerospace analyst, from the Teal Group.

"Boeing can't kill it right away, even if that makes economic sense, because they need to build the last few planes for the US Air Force presidential replacement aircraft program in a year or two," he added.

In recent years the 747 has been more popular as a cargo plane, rather than a passenger jet.

Ray Conner, chief executive of Boeing Commercial Airplanes, said in a statement: "The air cargo market recovery that began in late 2013 has stalled in recent months and slowed demand for the 747-8 freighter."

Mr Aboulafia says a combination of factors has eroded demand for the jumbo.

"The cargo market has had a very difficult few years, and shows no signs of growth. Meanwhile, the 747-8I passenger version was basically killed by the 777-9X, in much the same way that Airbus's A380 was gravely damaged by the A350-1000," said Mr Aboulafia.

Boeing shares rose 0.98% on Friday.

Record year

Overall the company said global passenger traffic and demand remained strong.

Boeing and European rival Airbus delivered record craft last year and Boeing is raising production of its 787 Dreamliner, built largely with lightweight composite materials that reduce fuel use.

Production will rise from the current 10 per month rate to 14, by 2020.

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