DUBAI Nov 16 Boeing said it has no plans
to reopen talks with a union representing Washington state
workers who have rejected a labour contract linked to its newest
jet and vowed it would "look very broadly" at where to build it.
Washington state machinists last week voted down a contract
negotiated between Boeing and leaders of the International
Association of Machinists (IAM) that would have kept production
of Boeing's profitable wide-body series in the Seattle area in
return for lower benefits.
Boeing is keeping "all options open" on where to build the
777X and expects to make a decision "within the next several
months", Boeing Commercial Airplanes Chief Executive Ray Conner
told a news conference on Saturday.
He was speaking on the eve of the Dubai Airshow where
industry sources expect the U.S. planemaker to launch the latest
version of the 777 jet with around 250 orders.
Asked whether Boeing was willing to go back into talks with
the IAM after its members rejected the contract proposal, Conner
said: "At this point we have no plans to do that."
Conner said the Seattle area, where Boeing builds most of
its jets, was not out of the race but that Boeing would look at
other facilities including wings production in Japan, where the
composite wing for the 787 Dreamliner is already made.
"The vote didn't go the way we had hoped so we are now
exploring all our options with respect to the 777X," he said.
Responding to a reporter's suggestion that the union felt
the ball was in Boeing's court to decide what to do next, Conner
said: "I would say the ball is in their court."
Boeing executives also rejected suggestions that the talks
had been driven by a need to speed up the new plane in response
to recent wins by European rival Airbus, saying it was
sticking to plans to deliver the proposed jet in 2020.
"Going into this vote was not being driven by a need to
accelerate the airplane," Conner said.
"The timing of the airplane hasn't changed: it has always
been the end of the decade," Conner said.
"The reason why we were moving forward with the negotiations
is we have got to put brick and mortar in place to do the wing
and maybe some other things," he added.
"It is a pretty long cycle, particularly with the wing, and
it is not something we have done before within the Puget Sound
region or anywhere else except in Japan. That is why we needed
to start the negotiations and find out where we were going to
be. It was not being diven by anything other than that."
IAM President R. Thomas Buffenbarger told Reuters in an
interview on Friday the talks had been "on a very fast timeline
that was being driven by the Boeing board making a decision to
expedite development of the 777X".
Marty Bentrott, Boeing's senior vice president for
international sales, told a separate news conference on Satuday
that the aircraft would enter service in "mid-2020".
Boeing officials declined to discuss orders lined up for the
Nov. 17-21 air show, but Bentrott said the 777X had been
received "very positively" by all three major Gulf carriers,
referring to Emirates, Etihad Airways and Qatar Airways.
Boeing expects to resolve reliability problems with its
high-tech 787 Dreamliner within six months by rolling out
changes to the aircraft's software, he added.
Customers including Qatar Airways and Norwegian Air have
complained about the plane's reliability.
Bentrott predicted the Dreamliner's latest version, the
787-10, would be part of the Middle East's fast-growing fleet
and said he was confident about prospects for the 737 MAX.
Industry sources expect heavy orders at the Middle East's
largest aviation gathering to include 30 Dreamliners and a
75-plane order for the 737 MAX, as well dozens of Airbus jets.