Jetmakers push freighters, 787 timing in palms of regulators By Reuters

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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The Boeing logo is displayed on a screen at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, the United States, August 7, 2019. REUTERS / Brendan McDermid / File Photo

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By Tim Hepher and Alexander Cornwell

DUBAI (Reuters) – Boeing (NYSE 🙂 said on Saturday it was in advanced talks to sell a cargo version of its future 777X jetliner, while Airbus predicted an imminent A350 freighter deal as aerospace giants hit a post Pandemic boom in e-commerce.

Boeing also said production of the 787 Dreamliner is nearing end, but said the timing of a return to normal shipments is entirely in the hands of regulators.

“We are in fairly advanced discussions with a number of customers. The (777X freighter) looks good from a design and requirements standpoint, ”said Ihssane Mounir, senior vice president of commercial sales and marketing.

The US aircraft manufacturer is on the verge of launching what it believes is the largest and most powerful new freighter in the world, while European rival Airbus is looking for buyers for an A350 cargo version, which it describes as lighter and more efficient.

Airbus expects to announce a take-off order for the A350 freighter “soon”, said Chief Commercial Officer Christian Scherer at a separate press conference on the eve of the Dubai Airshow.

“I am very satisfied with the worldwide and regional market response to the A350 freighter,” he added.

The 777X freighter is expected to be based on the smaller of two versions of the 777X family known as the 777-8.

It had been expected to be launched after the 777-8 passenger version, but Mounir said it could be ahead of the 777-8, which sales lagged behind the main 777-9 variant.

Boeing is sticking to plans to ship the 777-9 in 2023, Mounir said. The President of Dubai’s Emirates, the 777X’s largest customer, has sharply criticized Boeing for three years of delays and a lack of security in delivery dates.

CALL FOR REGULATIONS

Qatar Airways has publicly stated that it is in talks with Boeing about the possible purchase of a 777X freighter, while FedEx (NYSE 🙂 is widely viewed as another early contender. Airbus is hoping for an A350 freight contract with Singapore Airlines (OTC :).

Freight traffic has increased as passenger planes, which normally carry goods in the hold, have been on the ground due to the pandemic.

Mounir and Scherer, sales directors for the world’s two largest aircraft manufacturers, both said a market recovery was underway, despite doubts about the demand for the largest wide-body aircraft.

Boeing is now nearing resumption of deliveries of its 787 Dreamliner after suspending them due to manufacturing errors and negotiating with Chinese regulators to recertify the 737 MAX in China, Mounir said.

However, he stressed that Boeing will not pre-empt US or Chinese regulators who will make final decisions on when.

The 787 is plagued by production problems that have halted delivery since May. In July, the Federal Aviation Administration announced that some 787s had a build quality issue.

The 737 MAX was cleared by major Western regulators late last year after nearly two years of safety grounding, but China hasn’t put it back into service yet.

“Whether the FAA or international regulators are looking at us and asking us questions … we will stick to them,” Mounir said.

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