New York Stock Exchange Chief Executive John Thain said Wednesday that it did make sense to open the Big Board earlier than the current 9.30 a.m. eastern time, but that the idea was really a "project for 2006."

Thain was speaking a day after members approved the NYSE's purchase of electronic trading company Archipelago Holdings Inc. (AX), a deal that will turn it into a publicly traded company.

"It does make sense for us to open earlier," he told the CNBC business network. adding that the NYSE probably lost a "couple of percentage points of market share" by not opening before 9.30 a.m.

Thain said 9.30 a.m. wasn't "really 21st century hours."

He added: "But that's really a project for 2006."

Thain has made similar comments previously but has not spelled out a time frame. In November, he said the exchange wouldn't do it "right now but we do think we should eventually open earlier."

Opening the exchange earlier would be a controversial move, particularly for those in time zones earlier than New York. Thain has said in the past that the concept isn't very popular on the floor or on the West Coast.

A spokesman for the NYSE on Wednesday said: "It's an ongoing issue that is being looked at -- there's nothing definitive."