British Airways Confirms Huge Boeing 777-9 Order as Queen of the Skies Replacement Continues

Feb 28, 2019

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British Airways announced on Thursday a firm order for 18 Boeing 777-9 aircraft, with an option for a further 24 variants of the aircraft in a multi-billion-dollar order.

At list price, the full order comes at a cost of almost $20 billion, although airlines usually receive a deep discount for large orders like this.

The new aircraft, to be delivered from 2022, will replace 14 of the airline’s existing Boeing 747 jumbo jets as well as four older Boeing 777-200s. British Airways is the world’s largest operator of Boeing 747 aircraft, with 35 currently in its fleet.

As British Airways did not — and most likely will not — order the newest Boeing 747-8 variant, its 747s have an average age of 22 years, compared with only five years for its Airbus A380s and three years for its 787 Dreamliners.

Willie Walsh, the head of British Airways’ parent company, IAG, said of the order:

“The new B777-9 is the world’s most fuel efficient longhaul aircraft and will bring many benefits to British Airways’ fleet. It’s the ideal replacement for the Boeing 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 per cent compared to the Boeing 747.”

A computer rendering of the Boeing 777-9X. Image courtesy of Boeing.

2019 is a huge year for British Airways as it both celebrates its 100th year with special retro liveries and also introduces its brand-new and highly anticipated Club World seat on its first Airbus A350 aircraft. The new seat is set to replace its outdated high-density business-class layout, introduced more than a decade ago.

Photo by Brendan Dorsey / The Points Guy.
A British Airways 747-400 in retro BOAC colors. Photo by Brendan Dorsey / The Points Guy.

British Airways’ new 777-9 aircraft will feature a four-class configuration with a total of 325 seats. Each of the aircraft will be powered by GE9x engines from General Electric. While the aircraft are expected to be outfitted with the new Club World seat, they may also include a new first-class seat, given the lead time before the first delivery in 2022.

British Airways won’t be the launch customer for the 777-9, though — that honor goes to Emirates who will start to receive theirs from next year, followed by Lufthansa who will also feature an all new business-class seat. The 777-9 is the larger of two variants of the 777X family, which also includes the ultra-long-haul 777-8, and is scheduled to make its first flight this year. Boeing intends to replace its current 777 models with it.

Featured image courtesy of Boeing.

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