(Adds quote, details on outlook)
By Alwyn Scott
NEW YORK, April 27 (Reuters) - Boeing Co said on Wednesday that airline requests to change delivery dates of aircraft remained "well below historical average," a sign that low fuel prices have not significantly altered the outlook for the market.
Boeing also began building its 787 Dreamliner at the rate of 12 a month and plans to deliver planes at that rate by midyear, Chief Executive Officer Dennis Muilenburg said on a conference call after the company posted first-quarter results.
Requests to defer, accelerate and cancel aircraft deliveries were about 1 percent of the company's total backlog in the latest quarter, compared with an average of 6 percent over the past 15 years, Muilenburg said.
"We believe this speaks to the compelling and enduring value" of Boeing aircraft to airlines, he said.
His comments came as low fuel prices have caused retirements of older aircraft to slow and raised concern that the aircraft business cycle is slowing.
Muilenburg said that despite a slowdown in orders, Boeing expects new orders to roughly equal its forecast of 740 to 745 jetliner deliveries this year. (Reporting by Alwyn Scott; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)