Boeing speeds up production of 747, 777 models

NEW YORK: Boeing will speed up production plans for its 777 and 747 models in anticipation of greater demand from commercial airlines in a couple of years.

Both are wide-body planes capable of carrying more than 300 passengers and flying longer routes. They're also more fuel-efficient than other aircraft models.

Most major airlines reported losses in 2009 as travel demand slumped. The aircraft maker said Friday that it sees the airline industry recovering this year, followed by a return to profitability in 2011. That should lead to demand for new aircraft in 2012 and beyond, the company said.

Boeing, based in Chicago, will increase production of its 777 in mid-2011 to seven airplanes per month from five. The ramp-up was originally planned for early 2012. The 777 seats more than 300 people.

The 747-8, the newest version of Boeing's iconic jumbo jet, has been plagued by production problems. The passenger version, which carries more than 400 people, is scheduled to be delivered in the second quarter of 2011. Production will increase to two airplanes per month from 1.5 in mid-2012. The ramp-up had been scheduled for mid-2013.