International Airlines Group (IAG) has signed an agreement with Boeing for up to 42 777X aircraft for British Airways in order to replace their ageing fleet of 747-400s.
The deal, which consists of 18 firm orders and 24 options for the largest variant, the 777-9, is valued at up to $18.6 billion at list prices and will remain off Boeing’s Orders and Deliveries page until finalized by the group.
Boeing is currently in the process of painting the first 777-9 test aircraft, which is set to roll out early to mid March. Upon roll-out, which Sam Chui will be attending, the aircraft will undergo additional ground testing before performing its maiden flight.
Powered exclusively by two General Electric GE9X engines that produce up to 105,000 pounds of thrust, the aircraft is touted as the largest and most efficient twin-engine aircraft. Part of the agreement includes a comprehensive support package from GE.
Chief Executive of IAG, Willie Walsh, reflected on the agreement in the following statement:
“The new 777-9 is the world’s most fuel efficient longhaul aircraft and will bring many benefits to the British Airways fleet. It’s the ideal replacement for the 747 and its size and range will be an excellent fit for the airline’s existing network. This aircraft will provide further cost efficiencies and environmental benefits with fuel cost per seat improvements of 30 percent compared to the 747.”
By selecting the 777-9, British Airways will have a fairly streamlined Boeing widebody fleet, with the 787 Dreamliner and existing 777s featuring cockpit and maintenance commonality as well as the latest cabin options offered by Boeing.
Able to seat between 400 and 425 passengers in a comfortable configuration, the 777-9 matches the large capacity that the 747 has provided to the airline for many years. British Airways will configure their aircraft in a four-class layout, seating 365 passengers and will feature their new Club World Suites which will be launched with their upcoming Airbus A350-1000s.
Speaking of A350-1000s, this order comes as an unfortunate loss for Airbus, who was pitching the aircraft to compete against the 777-9. Although the airline already has the aircraft on order, the 777-9 will likely act as the flagship widebody twin.
As of this order, Boeing now has 358 orders and commitments from eight customers around the world for the 777X Family, which consists of the 777-8 and 777-9.