By Mike Baker, AP
SEATTLE–Boeing Co. is soliciting bids from more than a dozen locations that want to build the new 777X airplane and secure thousands of jobs along with it, a company official said Saturday.
Spokesman Doug Alder said requests for proposals began going out Friday. Boeing wants the proposals returned in a few weeks, and the company hopes to make a final decision early next year.
Alder declined to specify the locations of interest but said each had asked for the chance to compete for the 777X work and met the company’s qualifications. He also declined to discuss the criteria the company will use to assess bids.
“We’ll look at what might best fit our needs,” Alder said.
Officials in Alabama, California, Missouri, South Carolina, Texas and Utah are among those who have talked about trying to lure Boeing.
Production of the plane will likely mean thousands of long-term jobs for whichever location Boeing selects.
Boeing had initially offered to build the 777X in Washington state but had sought concessions from union machinists in exchange for the guarantee. The union rejected a proposed contract, leading Boeing to immediately begin talks with other locations.
Alder said the company had no plans to re-engage in talks with the machinists.
Washington state officials still plan to compete for the work. The state recently approved tax breaks valued at US$9 billion over the coming years and legislation to improve aerospace training programs and the permit issuing process.
“That’s going to be stressed strongly in whatever we do going forward,” said David Postman, a spokesman for Washington Gov. Jay Inslee.
Boeing’s 777X is already drawing plenty of interest from carriers. At the Dubai Airshow last week, Boeing received orders for 225 such planes from three airlines.
The company began offering the 777X in May, but it’s still finalizing plans for the plane. Boeing has said it is expected to carry as many as 400 passengers and be more fuel efficient than the current 777. The company is aiming to deliver the first aircraft by the end of the decade. Airplane purchases are typically made years in advance as airlines and producers plan out their large expenses long into the future.