China plans to sign a deal next month confirming five airlines' orders for 50 Boeing 787 Dreamliners, a Chinese news agency said yesterday. The Boeing Co. said it still was negotiating with those carriers and a sixth airline to seal commitments for a total of 60 orders placed in January.

Airlines involved in the $6 billion deal, reported by the official Xinhua News Agency, were the national flag carrier Air China, Shanghai-based China Eastern Airlines, Hainan Airlines, Xiamen Airlines and Shanghai Airlines.

In January, those five airlines and a sixth, China Southern, announced a deal for 60 787s worth $7.2 billion.

"We continue to work with six airlines in China to finalize the commitments that were made in January," said Boeing spokesman Peter Conte in Seattle.

To date, Boeing has received 143 firm orders and 109 additional commitments for the fuel-efficient, long-range 787, including the 60 orders the Chinese airlines placed in January. The largest combined order for the 787 so far has come from Japan, where All Nippon Airways has ordered 50 planes and Japan Air Lines has ordered 30.

The wide-body jet is scheduled to enter service in 2008.

Boeing expects China's airlines to spend $183 billion on aircraft over the next two decades as its large and increasingly prosperous population takes to air travel.

Boeing expects to deliver its new fuel-efficient, long-range 787 passenger jet in 2008.