A Russian cargo firm has pledged an order that could help extend the life of the Boeing Co.’s iconic 747.
According to a report from Bloomberg, AirBridgeCargo has said it wants to buy 18 more 747s after having leased two of the aircraft from Boeing in November.
But economic troubles in Russia — where aircraft sales are exempt from trade sanctions — present headwinds for the deal, though some believe the reauthorization of the U.S. Export-Import Bank could help with the needed financing.
If the pledge were to become actual orders, it would be a boon to the order book for the 747.
Boeing lists two sales for 747s so far this year, and an 18-aircraft order would nearly double the 20 747s the company lists as unfilled orders.
Boeing has already announced plans to trim production on the 747 to one aircraft per month in March 2016.
The cut, the fourth such reduction in two years, comes at a time when airlines have increasingly moved toward smaller, more fuel-efficient models for their cargo and passenger needs.
But while some industry observers see the 747 as being near its end, others believe the cargo market still presents opportunities for Boeing to make sales of its jumbo jet, dubbed the “Queen of the Skies,” and keep the program going into the next decade.
If the Russian order comes through, deliveries of which would continue through 2022, or any other orders come through, it could mean the aircraft would still have life after planned production of the next aircraft to serve as Air Force One.