Boeing CEO Jim McNerney today revealed a further delay of the 747-8 Intercontinental, from the second quarter of 2011 to the fourth quarter of that year. Speaking during the company’s first-quarter earnings call this morning, McNerney blamed the estimated six-month delay on the “softening freighter market and the resulting decision to delay a planned increase in 747 production.”
This month’s announcement by Boeing of plans to slash production of the 777 from seven to five per month included mention of the decision not to speed production of 747-8s. Last year Boeing delivered fourteen 747s, all freighter versions of the 747-400. Boeing still expects to deliver its first 747-8 Freighter to Cargolux during next year’s third quarter–some nine months later than originally planned but consistent with a schedule modification announced last November.
McNerney said the move “is consistent with the discussions we’ve had with our Intercontinental customers and was factored into the first quarter production decision financial impacts.”
Although Lufthansa remains the only airline customer for the 747-8, Boeing has sold eight VIP variants, and, according to a company spokesman, plans remain in place to deliver the first Intercontinental to a VIP customer shortly before Lufthansa takes its first airplane. Lufthansa holds orders for 20 of the 970,000-pound, wide-body airliner, and expects delivery of its first airplane in the fourth quarter of 2011.