Boeing Co aims to convert all the commitments on its single-aisle 737MAX aircraft into firm orders this year and secure some more orders, the head of its commercial airplanes business said.

Jim Albaugh, president and chief executive officer of Boeing Commercial Airplanes, said this year the company would focus on delivering the massive orderbooks as well as coming up with a strategy for its long-haul twin-aisle aircraft.

Boeing started a year later than its European rival Airbus in a race to overhaul the $2 trillion (1.26 trillion pound) narrowbody aircraft market, and is fighting hard to restore balance to their tense duopoly.

We have over 1,100 commitments and our goal this year is to turn all of those into firm orders, Albaugh told reporters on Wednesday during his short trip to the city-state. His visit came a few days after the Singapore Airshow.

We hope we are going to have something approaching a couple thousand of airplanes before we launched the first one, he said referring to the number of firm 737MAX orders that the company would like to have before its first delivery in 2017.

Both Airbus and Boeing have secured around $40 billion worth of single-aisle aircraft orders in recent months from Southeast Asian budget carriers, raising industry concerns about overcapacity.

Albaugh said there is a risk that the massive global backlog orders could be deferred or even cancelled if there is a further slowdown in the economy.

If there really is a softening in the economy, you could see some deferrals, you could see some people cancelling and you could see fewer orders.

On the strategy for its wide-body aircraft, he said the company will make a decision on whether to go ahead with the programme to produce a stretch version of 787 Dreamliner by the end of this year.

Last week, Boeing said it is considering introducing a stretched version of its new 787 family, which will enable it to carry 40 more passengers or a total of 320 people than the current version of 787-9 that it is offering.

The Dreamliner project has been in the spotlight in recent weeks due to delamination problems on its fuselage. Albaugh reiterated the company's previous statement that it was not a major problem and does not cause any short-term safety issue.

We are inspecting all those airplanes right now it is very fixable and we are in the process of fixing the airplanes. There is no safety or flight issue on the airplanes that we have delivered.

He said it might have an impact on the delivery of the aircraft, which have been three years behind schedule, to customers in the short term but it would not affect the delivery target for this year.

The delamination on part of the rear fuselage of its carbon-composite 787 Dreamliner is somewhat similar to the cracking on a metal structure, but harder to detect.

(Reporting by Harry Suhartono; Editing by Anshuman Daga)