Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Mcdonnell Seeks Work from Boeing Rival Swamped with Orders

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Mcdonnell Seeks Work from Boeing Rival Swamped with Orders

Article excerpt

McDonnell Douglas Corp.'s anemic commercial aircraft unit might get help from an unlikely source - archrival Boeing Co.

McDonnell has held exploratory talks with Boeing about taking on some of that company's design, production and assembly work.

Boeing has been overwhelmed by orders this year and is looking for a way to ease pressure on its aircraft plants in the Seattle area. "We've got work, and they've got resources," spokesman Steve Smith told Bloomberg Business News. The arrangement could help McDonnell's airliner unit offset weak sales, as well as the cancellation of a much-anticipated jumbo jet program. McDonnell got another jolt Wednesday when an executive for Delta Air Lines Inc. said the company might dump its MD-90 jetliners because of disappointing performance. Delta has 14 of the jets, none of which is more than 2 years old. Delta, which was the "launch customer" for the MD-90, has orders and options for 79 more jets. McDonnell's Douglas Aircraft Co. unit is based in Long Beach, Calif. It employs about 10,000 people, who work on the company's four commercial aircraft programs: the MD-80, MD-90, MD-95 and MD-11. Douglas has lagged well behind Boeing and Airbus Industrie in orders this year, claiming only 6 percent of the world market. Its struggle to land orders is significant because airlines that were fiscally conservative earlier in the decade are moving now to modernize and expand their fleets. Boeing has won $8 billion in business in the past eight days. Three-f ourths of the total came from American Airlines, which for years was one of McDonnell's best customers. American ordered 103 jets as part of a plan to replace its entire 640-plane fleet with Boeing jets. The record number of orders on Boeing's books has led to parts shortages and mandatory overtime for many employees. The company has hired about 17,500 new workers this year in a futile effort to keep up. …

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