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Boeing Says Asian Crisis May Delay 60 Deliveries

The Boeing Co. said Asian airlines may delay taking delivery of as many as 60 jetliners over the next three years because the region’s economic problems are slowing growth in airline traffic.

The world’s biggest aircraft maker could see as many as 20 Asian deliveries a year delayed though 2000, said Gordon McHenry, director of airline industry analysis for Boeing. Boeing still expects to deliver the jetliners, starting in 2001, when an economic rebound is predicted in the region, he said.

A loss of 20 deliveries a year would be small compared with the company’s expected delivery of 550 planes next year, McHenry said. Yet analysts said Boeing’s report didn’t eliminate their concerns about the uncertainties of doing business in Asia.

“This would be good news if I had a high degree of confidence that this is all it’s going to entail,” said Peter Jacobs, an analyst with Ragen MacKenzie. “The reality is that no one knows what news is going to come out of the region tomorrow.”

The company has orders from airlines in South Korea, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines and Japan, all of which have seen estimates of their economic growth shrink as Asia’s currency and stock markets have foundered.The Asian financial crisis started in the summer when Thailand gave up efforts to prop up its currency as investors bailed out of the nation’s stocks and bonds. The currency plunged, creating a crisis of confidence that had ripple effects throughout the region’s financial markets. The models most likely to see deliveries delayed are the 747, 777 and 767.