Boeing signals it might further speed up 737 jetliner output

SEATTLE Thu Aug 14, 2014 1:00pm EDT

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SEATTLE Aug 14 (Reuters) - Boeing gave a further signal on Thursday that it is getting close to a decision on whether to further accelerate output of its popular 737 narrowbody jetliner, which could lift production to 52 a month.

"We continue to see very strong demand," Chief Financial Officer Greg Smith said at an investor conference, speaking about Boeing's commercial jetliner business.

"In particular on the 737 there is more pressure on the upside, and we will address that in the months to come," he said.

Increasing output by opening up more production slots allows the company to deliver jets to customers sooner.

Boeing is currently making forty-two 737s a month, a rate it achieved earlier this year. It has announced plans to lift that rate to 47 a month in 2017, and has told suppliers that demand is sufficient to go to 52 a month later in the month.

A Boeing spokesman said the company constantly evaluates its production rates but declined to comment further.

Boeing's Renton, Washington, factory is preparing to build the 737 MAX, a new version of the stalwart, single-aisle 737 that has new engines, much lower fuel consumption and is scheduled to enter service in 2017.

The 737 MAX competes with the Airbus Group A320neo, which also carries new engines and is due to enter service in the fourth quarter of 2015. (Reporting by Alwyn Scott; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)

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