[CHICAGO] Boeing Co is still studying how best to tap the midrange market, where the planemaker doesn't have a product offering.
The manufacturer is discussing its options with customers and sees an opportunity, provided it can balance prices airlines are willing to pay against the cost of developing a new jet, Greg Smith, executive vice-president for business and strategy, said Wednesday at a Cowen & Co conference. He spoke in response to a direct question about a report that Boeing was considering stretching the 737 to fill the market gap.
Boeing has been losing sales to Airbus Group SE, which has been marketing its largest narrow-body as the best fit for the void left when Boeing ended production of its midsize 757 jet more than a decade ago.
Boeing officials have said previously that both single- and twin-aisle models are on the drawing boards as they seek to fill the gap in their product line-up between the largest 737 Max and smallest 787 Dreamliner.
A new model, if approved, wouldn't enter the market until after the slated 2020 debut of the wide- body 777X, Mr Smith said.
Creating a new middle-of-market product offering has gained urgency for Boeing as airlines turned to a re-engined version of the A321 for trans-continental flights, widening Airbus's sales lead in the narrow-body sector. The European planemaker had 1,094 orders for the A321neo through December compared to 291 for Boeing's 737 Max 9.
Boeing's largest single-aisle model, the Max 9 will seat about 204 travelers in a single-cabin configuration when it enters the market in 2018. The competing Airbus model seats about 220 people.
The Wall Street Journal reported earlier that Boeing was considering stretching its single-aisle 737 to seat as many as 240 customers, while outfitting the plane with redesigned wings and higher landing gear.