Boeing plans to pare production of its 747-8 jumbo jet for the fourth time in two years, reducing output to one per month.

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Boeing plans to pare production of its 747-8 jumbo jet for the fourth time in two years while awaiting a rebound in air cargo to give new lift to sales.

Output of the humpbacked aircraft will drop to one per month effective in March. Boeing had already announced plans to slow monthly output from 1.5 planes to 1.3 planes by September.

The four-engine 747-8 is Boeing’s largest model, and the freighter version lists for $368.4 million.


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Boeing premiered its new 787-9 airplane with a dramatic take-off at the Paris Air Show June 15, 2015. Read more from the 2015 Paris Air Show. (Dominic Gates / The Seattle Times)    

“We are optimistic that we have things in balance now and the cargo market is swinging back quite strongly,” Bruce Dickinson, the program’s general manager, said in an emailed statement Wednesday.

The air cargo market has been slow to recover from a collapse in global shipping that followed the 2008 financial crash, a glut of used freighters and competition from packages ferried in the bellies of large passenger planes such as Boeing’s 777 jetliners.

Boeing anticipates that an uptick in air-freight demand over the last six quarters will eventually translate into orders for its jumbo, the only cargo-hauler capable of front-loading pallets via its hinged nose.

The plane maker announced a commitment with Russia’s Volga Dnepr for 20 of the aircraft during the Paris Air Show earlier this month. That’s equivalent to less than two years of production if the memo of understanding results in firm orders. The Russian order would add to a thin backlog of just 32 jets.

If Boeing can’t build out its order book, the “risk remains that the line will need to close by the end of the decade,” Jason Gursky, senior analyst, aerospace and defense, with Citigroup Global Markets Inc., said in a June research report.