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Air China Takes Delivery of First 747-8i


Air China took delivery of its first Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental passenger jet this week at a ceremony held in Everett, Wash.

The flag carrier of the People’s Republic of China, which is retiring its aging fleet of 747-400, recently became the first airline in Asia to fly the 747-8i. They flew the plane to Beijing on Tuesday and have four more of the jumbo jets on order, according to Boeing.

With a list price of $368 million, a flying range of 8,000 miles, and the incorporation of fuel-efficient technology and interior elements of the 787 Dreamliner, the 747-8i is built to go toe-to-toe with the Airbus A380.

Air China will begin 747-8i service between Beijing and domestic destinations on October 11. Later this year, the carrier expects to fly the jet from Beijing to Frankfurt, and eventually to Los Angeles and New York, reports USA Today.

The airline is hoping to attract more business travelers, so it’s configured the 747-8i with 366 seats in three classes — 12 in first class, 52 in business, 36 in premium economy and 266 in economy — according to USA Today. The aircraft can seat as many as 467 passengers in a three-class configuration.

Lufthansa was the launch customer for the 747-8i, and the carrier has taken delivery of 15 of the 19 aircraft it ordered.

Airline watchers have begun to question the economics of super-sized jets like the 747-8i and the A380. So far, Boeing has just 40 orders from four carriers. A380 orders are also tepid.

“The 747-8 program is on its last legs,” Scott Hamilton, a Seattle-based aviation analyst, told USA Today. Hamilton believes Boeing has to offer garage-sale prices or “face terminating the program soon.”

[Photo: Boeing]

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