Boeing Co said on Wednesday that it would push production of its 767 aircraft up by 25 per cent in 2017 to help fill an order for 50 planes from FedEx Corp.
The company said it would boost production to 25 a month from two a month, starting in the fourth quarter or 2017. Boeing which makes 1.5 aircraft a month would reach two a month in the first quarter of 2016.
"We are confident the market will support a long-term future for the 767," Brad Zaback, vice president and general manager, said in an internal memo which Reuters claims to have seen.
He said the 767 order backlog reached into the mid-20020s and would lead to a small increase in employees in 2017.
The Wall Street Journal was the first to report the rate increase.
Boeing was also in the process of ratcheting up its output of 787 and 737 jets but was cutting production of its bigger 747 jetliner, that had suffered from slow sales.
According to some analysts, Boeing would need to temporarily cut production of the twin-aisle 777 as it switched to a new version later in the decade, but the company said it did not have current plans to cut that rate.
The Seattle Times reported citing a person with knowledge of the program, that the company planned to add around 150 jobs in the next couple years to the 767 workforce of roughly 2,000 to 2,500 assembly mechanics.
According to the memo which was sent Wednesday, the rate would increase in the fourth quarter of 2017 to 2.5 jets per month, or 30 jets per year.
''The 767 has a very healthy backlog through the mid part of the next decade,'' said Brad Zaback, vice president and general manager of the 767 program.
''We are confident the market will support a long-term future for the 767,'' The Seattle Times reported.
In July, FedEx ordered 50 of the aircraft, for deliveries from 2017 through 2023 and also negotiated options to purchase an additional 50.
According to Boeing spokeswoman Karen Crabtree there were more ongoing sales campaigns for the 767 commercial freighter.
The surge in freighter sales went counter to an extended slump in world air-cargo demand that grew worse recently as emerging economies slowed.
Tony Tyler, chief executive of the International Air Transport Association (IATA), said last week that ''the combination of China's continued shift toward domestic markets, wider weakness in emerging markets and slowing global trade indicates that it will continue to be a rough ride for air cargo in the months to come,'' The Seattle Times reported.
Last month Boeing won a $1.49-billion contract to build 13 additional P-8A maritime surveillance aircraft, and supply of parts for 20 other aircraft of the same type. (See: Boeing wins $1.49-bn contract for P-8A maritime aircraft).