updated 12/17/2004 11:06:29 AM ET 2004-12-17T16:06:29

Boeing Co. plans to target Asia as a market for its new 7E7 Dreamliner passenger jet and expects to finalize sales of about 200 7E7s by the end of this year, a top company official said Friday.

Randy Baseler, vice president of marketing, said Chicago-based Boeing has made proposals to about 30 airlines to sell more than 600 7E7 Dreamliners, which are expected to start service in 2008.

Boeing is finalizing sales of 200 7E7s to Asian, Middle Eastern, European and North American carriers, he said in a teleconference with Asian journalists.

"We have been talking to our regular customers in the Asia region, such as All Nippon Airways of Japan," Baseler said from Seattle, where Boeing's commercial airplanes division is based.

Boeing, which lost out to Europe's Airbus SAS in jetliner deliveries for the first time last year, is seeking success with the 7E7 after Airbus announced last week that it will launch its A350 to rival Boeing's new aircraft.

Malaysia-based budget carrier AirAsia announced Thursday it will buy 40 Airbus A320 passenger jets in a deal worth about $2.5 billion and phase out its all-Boeing fleet.

AirAsia owns five 737-300 Boeing aircraft and leases another 19.

"We are very disappointed that Airbus was able to get the AirAsia deal," Baseler said.

Boeing 737s make up 88 percent of the 1,110 planes used by U.S. low-cost carriers, according to Baseler.

Copyright 2004 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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