Boeing 747 Gets Another Order, But Demand Is Lagging

Korean Air finalized an order for five Boeing 747-8 passenger jets, but the transaction isn’t enough to keep up production of the double-decker jumbo jet.

Counting cancellations, the company hadn’t booked any new orders for 2013 until this week. As a result, Boeing announced it will cut production to build 18 of the jets per year.

The massive plane has been in the air since 1970 and was first popular for its long-range capabilities, reports The Denver Post. However, the 747-8 faces stiff competition now in the form of the larger Airbus A380 and Boeing’s smaller 777.

Boeing booked orders this year for 107 of the jets, 51 of which have yet to be delivered. At the original rate, the orders would be enough for two years-worth of work. However, the revamped jet, which was first delivered in 2011, hasn’t been selling as well.

ABC News notes that last Friday’s announcement is the second time this year that the Boeing 747-8’s production was cut. Despite the drop in production, Boeing claims it still has confidence in the jumbo jet. While the airplane manufacturer still sees a market for the massive plane, most airlines aren’t looking for such a big plane anymore.

Delta Airlines Inc. CEO Richard Anderson explained, “We had four engines when jet engine technology wasn’t advanced. Now jet engines are amazing, amazing machines and you only need two of them.” Part of the problem is the jet’s size. A Boeing 747 can seat between 380 and 560 people, but it is hard to fill up that number of seats.

Instead, airlines try to fly smaller planes several times per day, to both fill up seats and provide more options for customers. The list price of the 747 is also the most expensive of any Boeing airplane at about $350 million, depending on options. Boeing doesn’t expect the slower 747 production rate to have a significant financial impact.

[Image via Wikimedia Commons]