777s take the hit for Boeing

Manufacturer to 'adjust' production plan for 2009.
SkyCargo's first 777F, touching down at DXB for the first time earlier this month.
SkyCargo's first 777F, touching down at DXB for the first time earlier this month.

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Despite the fact that no orders for the 777 have been cancelled this year, Boeing has announced that it will trim production of the aircraft from seven to five a month, starting in June next year. The US giant has also indicated that it will cancel a proposed expansion to its 747-8 and 767 production programmes.

Deferrals in orders from some customers for the 777 freighter have prompted the move, which will see the firm's share price drop still further and is also likely to result in job cuts at its Everett headquarters.

Air France has already deferred two of its five 777F orders, but Emirates SkyCargo has not announced any delays in delivery yet. The carrier is set to receive its second of the type in May.

Middle Eastern carriers have embraced the 777 type, both in its passenger and cargo form, and it seems likely that they will bear the brunt of this move. Qatar Airways is taking delivery of a 777 fleet, and Gulf Air has just leased a number of the aircraft from India's Jet Airways. The 777's twin-engine efficiency makes its range-to-fuel-cost ratio extremely economical.

"These are extremely difficult economic times for our customers. It's necessary to adjust our production plans to align supply with these tough market conditions. We are in close contact with our customers as we continue to monitor this dynamic business environment," said Boeing Commercial Airplanes president and CEO Scott Carson.

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