SEATTLE (Reuters) - Boeing Co BA.N aims to sell 535 jetliners this year, Aviation Week reported on Monday, citing an internal company forecast, well below the plane maker's official forecast of 740 to 745 aircraft.
If correct, the reduced tally would mirror a slowdown in aircraft sales at Boeing and rival Airbus AIR.PA. Widebody plane sales are under particular pressure.
Still, asked about the internal forecast which has not been made public, Boeing said it remained committed to its target of selling about as many planes as it delivers this year, or about “740 to 745.”
“We have a host of internal forecasts,” Boeing spokesman Doug Alder said. “As a general rule, we do not comment on internal numbers.”
New aircraft sales have slowed as airlines rein in capacity amid weak global growth, and as low oil prices prompt some carriers to fly older planes longer, rather than upgrading to new fuel-efficient models. Also, many airlines already ordered new planes over the past few years, which has cooled demand.
Alder noted Chief Executive Officer Dennis Muilenburg’s recent comment that 737 sales could allow Boeing to achieve its goal, even if widebody sales remain slow.
“This year’s order cycle is more favorable on the narrow bodies,” Muilenburg said on a July 27 conference call. “We expect the predominance of that orders flow this year to be in the narrow-bodies arena.”
The company is working to sell more widebodies and doing “a lot of scenario planning,” he said, adding that Boeing won’t cut prices to win orders.
Aviation Week said Boeing aims to book 88 orders each for its 777 and 787 widebodies this year. So far, Boeing has sold 19 of its 787 Dreamliners and eight 777s, according to official Boeing data.
Boeing especially needs to sell 777s to fill a gap in its assembly line as it phases out that plane for the successor 777X over the next few years. It said this month that it might cut 777 production and defer a planned 787 production increase if it cannot book more orders.
According to the forecast reported by Aviation Week, Boeing aims to sell 324 of its narrowbody 737 aircraft, 14 of its widebody 747 jumbo jets and 21 of its widebody 767 model in 2016.
Boeing’s official forecast isn’t broken down by model. So far this year, it has sold four 747s, seven 767s and 297 of its 737 model. Boeing has a backlog of 5,697 unfilled orders.
Reporting by Alwyn Scott; Editing by Bernadette Baum
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