Boeing delays new jumbo, shares fall

Business Materials 14 November 2008 23:50 (UTC +04:00)

Boeing Co pushed back the schedule on the cargo version of its 747 jumbo by as much as nine months as the plane maker attempts to get operations back to normal after a drawn-out strike by its machinists, Reuters reported.

The delay, caused by design changes and lack of resources at a stretched Boeing, along with the 58-day strike, comes on top of continuing problems with the new 787 Dreamliner, which is already about 18 months behind schedule.

Boeing shares fell 4.7 percent on the New York Stock Exchange, to hover above a 4-1/2 year low.

The company said on Friday that the first 747-8 Freighter would now be delivered in the third quarter of 2010, rather than the previous target of late 2009. That chiefly affects Japan's Nippon Cargo Airlines and Luxembourg's Cargolux Airlines, which made the first orders for the plane in 2005.

Boeing has firm orders for 78 of the giant freighters, worth about $23 billion. The delay may not be all bad for customers, as a looming global recession looks set to reduce the amount of goods being flown around the world. Cargo operators will hope the economy has recovered by the time the planes are delivered in the second half of 2010.

The passenger version of the plane, called the 747-8 Intercontinental, will now be delivered in the second quarter of 2011, rather than the previous target of late 2010, Boeing said.

That is a blow for Germany's Lufthansa, the only airline that has signed up to buy the 747-8 passenger version, ordering 20 in 2006, worth about $5.8 billion at list prices. Boeing's business jet unit has also placed orders for eight of the planes, likely on behalf of wealthy clients or heads of state.

The 747-8 is Boeing's biggest plane, seating 467 passengers in a standard three-class layout. It is the nearest competitor to the 500-plus seat A380, made by EADS unit Airbus.

Boeing said delays were partly caused by limited availability of engineering resources within the company, as the resources have recently been focused on the 787, its most high profile and potentially most profitable plane.

Boeing shares fell $2.02 to $41.14 on the NYSE. The stock is down 52 percent this year.