Boeing eyes fresh opportunity in Emirates' interest in 747-8

Boeing Co and Emirates Airlines, the world's biggest operator of the Airbus A380 super jumbo,  are in talks over a potential sale of Boeing 747-8, the super jumbo's rival, Bloomberg reported.

The talks if fruitful, could deliver a major boost to Boeing's marketing efforts that had met little success so far.

Emirates' seeks to improve the fuel burn on its largest jets, which is expected to open up a window of opportunity for Boeing, which started discussions about the 747-8, according to John Wojick, senior vice president for sales and marketing at the Chicago-based manufacturer's commercial airplane unit.

The sales of both A380 and the 747-8 had been particularly lacklustre, forcing the manufacturer to cut production rates. Though Emirates, is the biggest customer of both the A380 and Boeing's popular 777, the largest twin-engine aircraft available, the airline had pushed Airbus to put more efficient engines on its A380.

''The new engines they're pressing Airbus to put on their plane, we've already got four of them,'' Wojick said in an interview in Doha, Qatar, at the annual general meeting of the International Air Transport Association. ''We think we have a good solution.''

Boeing now is eyeing new business for the 747-8, which at this point is under operation by Deutsche Lufthansa AG, one of four customers for the passenger variant.

With talks being at an early stage, Wojick did not say how many aircraft Emirates might want to buy.

Meanwhile Wojick told Reuters he was confident of selling enough of Boeing's current long-distance benchmark, the 777-300ER, to fill the gap until the commissioning in service of the 777X version expected in 2020 and avoid any interim production cut.

"We are looking at solid demand for the airplane, and we think we can fill the bridge, and that is my job," Wojick said in an interview.

He replied in the positive when asked if his forecast was based on the current production rate of 8.3 aircraft a month, or 100 a year, he said.

Boeing and European rival Airbus are both focused on a revamp of their most cash-generating models to help pay for developments of two revolutionary carbon-fibre jetiners, the Boeing 787 Dreamliner and the Airbus A350.

While the cautious strategy had been welcomed by investors, according to analysts, both companies faced challenges in keeping output of existing models stable while airlines waited for the new ones.