Britain’s First Choice Mainstream Holidays and Italy’s Blue Panorama have agreed to buy a total of 10 Boeing 7E7 aircraft totaling about $1.25 billion, becoming the plane’s first European customers, Boeing officials said Wednesday.
“Its obviously good news for Everett,” said Mike Bair, a senior vice president with 7E7 program.
The planes will be assembled at Boeing’s Everett plant, and the new orders help solidify a program expected to create 800 to 1,200 assembly jobs.
British-based First Choice will buy six 7E7s and Rome-based charter airline Blue Panorama will buy four, Bair said.
“We believe that the 7E7 will take the comfort of flying to a new level,” said Dermot Blastland, managing director of First Choice.
Bair said he estimates Boeing will sell about 200 7E7s by the end of the year. Sixty-two have been sold already this year.
“If you look at our first four customers it is a great mix,” he said.
Japan’s All Nippon Airways bought 50 7E7s and Air New Zealand purchased two. The 7E7, due to start flying in 2008, has a list price of about $125 million.
Bair said the variety in customers stems from the versatility of the plane. The 217-passenger 7E7 Dreamliner is designed to fly both short and long distances.
“That’s one of the attractive features of the aircraft and was a factor in these companies decisions,” Bair said. “Hopping from somewhere in Europe to the Mediterranean to the Caribbean or nonstop service from Europe to Hawaii (is capable with the 7E7). We continue to see the broad flexibility of the aircraft bringing in a mix of customers and a broad base of interest.”
Other selling points of the 7E7 is that is uses 20 percent less fuel than similar aircraft and 10 percent less total operating cost, Bair said. The 7E7 is Boeing’s first all-new airliner in more than a decade.
“I think there is a good chance sometime this year we could get our first U.S. customer,” Bair said.
Boeing has sent out proposals to more than 30 airlines for the purchase of more than 600 planes. Some 24 of the proposals are being further explored, Bair said.
“The next step is to secure the deal,” he said, but would not speculate on when more sales will be announced. Bair said he doesn’t expect any announcements to be made at the upcoming airshow in Farnborough, England.
Both European carriers selected the 7E7-8 model, with a range of 9,750 miles or about 2,484 miles farther than similar-sized airplanes.
Reporter Evan Caldwell: 425-339-3475 or email@example.com