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Is The End Of The 747 In Sight?

Boeing Having Trouble Finding Buyers For The Original Jumbo Jet

Boeing is continuing to struggle to find buyers for the 747, which has some analysts writing the obituary for the airplane.

Writing for Forbes, contributor Dan Reed points out that Boeing won only two orders for the 747-8F freighter this year, which were added to the two that were ordered last year. Both of those were "white tails" bought by the company's aircraft financing unit. They were leased to Russian cargo carrier AirBridge Cargo, which has seen its share of recent financial difficulties. Boeing reportedly has six to eight "white tail" 747s ... airplanes that are not committed to a customer and therefore have no livery ... in their inventory.

In March, Boeing cut the production rate from 18 747s per year to one per month, and still has only enough orders to keep its Everett, WA production line open for about two years, Reed reports.

Only about 30 Boeing 747s remain in service with U.S.-flagged carriers, and United and Delta are phasing them out.

The 747s only competitor in terms of size is the Airbus A380, which seats up to 550 people rather than the 400 or so normally carried by the 747. While demand for the A380 has also been slow, it has seen sales far superior to the 747.

Forbes reports that Boeing still hopes to keep the 747 production line open long enough to secure a contract to replace the aging 747-200s currently flown as Air Force One with new, highly-modified 747-8 airplanes. But beyond that, Reed writes, the airplane's days are numbered.

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