Boeing hopes to have a firm commitment from Emirates airline on its $6.6 billion order for 25 B777s by mid-year with expectations of the announcement being made at the UK's Farnborough air show.
Emirates signed a letter of intent for the 25 Boeing 777- 200s and 300s during the Dubai air show in November.
"We continue to work towards an agreement. Emirates' senior management has discussed the offers. We have issues such as configuration and delivery to be worked out. We hope to have an announcement in the next two to three months, maybe at Farnborough," said Douglas Groseclose, Boeing senior vice-president for international sales.
"Right now, it is still in the works and very open-ended," Groseclose pointed out.
"Our objective is to make the (Emirates') intention expressed last year into a firm decision this year," said Paul Dubeck, Boeing sales director.
Groseclose disclosed that Boeing has been approached by Ariana for planes, but Afghanistan's flag carrier has funding problems. Boeing is putting together a plan to supply it with used aircraft.
"We're talking with Ariana about used airplanes with various airlines - planes that are parked in the hangars."
Groseclose declined to say whether lifting of sanctions has been pushed far into the mists of time, following President Bush's 'war on terror' initiative.
"Boeing has a very strong lobby group working in Washington DC. Iran, Iraq, Libya, Syria - all require airplanes and we would like those airplanes to be Boeing. There is demand there for Western products.
"We had hoped that things had started to improve, but then September 11 came along. We hope someday soon - and when that happens, we'd be the first to fly into Iran, Iraq and Libya," Groseclose said.
He said the Sonic Cruiser project is still on schedule and is now in the wind tunnel testing phase.
"We have not formally launched the project, but the Boeing team continues to work with a number of airlines, including Emirates. We are still focused on the Sonic Cruiser and are still spending money on R&D. It is still in the study phase and is scheduled for delivery from 2008."
Dubeck said after the events of September 11, North American airlines had to look inwards rather than at projects like the Sonic Cruiser. Emirates, on the other hand, has recovered completely and is growing very fast.
SOURCE: GULF NEWS