The Dubai Airshow is known for releasing multi-billion dollar orders from the major Gulf carriers, and yesterday was no exception.
Boeing was the clear winner on day one of the show, and the star was the yet to be commenced Boeing 777X program which is an upgrade of the already ultra-popular Boeing 777 twin engine wide body jetliner which today commands 71% of the in-service fleet worldwide.
Video at the end of the story
Despite receiving a order for 34 777-9X from German carrier Lufthansa two months ago, Boeing formally launched the 777X program at the 2013 Dubai Airshow, in deference to its largest 777 customer, Dubai-based Emirates airline, whose CEO, Tim Clark, has been the biggest demander of the new aircraft. (Watch a video of Tim Clark talking about wide body aircraft including the 777X).
Reflecting customer faith in the yet to be developed aircraft, Boeing took in orders and commitments for a whopping 225 aircraft, racking up its tally to 259, making the 777X, the largest product launch in commercial jetliner history by value.
Boeing received orders and commitments from Etihad Airways with 25 77X aircraft (17 777-9X and 8 777-8X), Qatar Airways with 50 777-9X; and Emirates with 150 777X (115 777-9X and 35 777-8X), with an option for 50 more. The combined value of the agreements is more than $95 billion at list prices.
The consistent large orders from the Gulf majors is not unexpected. As Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al-Maktoum, Chairman of Emirates, explained
“In recent years, much of the action in global aviation has shifted to the Middle East because countries like the U.A.E. and Qatar have tapped into our geographical advantage to build new air transport connections for the world,”
The 777X will build on the market leading 777 and will introduce new technologies in multiple places. A new composite wing similar to the 787 Dreamliner and 747-8 Jumbo will feature folding raked wingtips, allowing the new plane to fit into existing gates at airports. The new GE9X is touted as the most advanced commercial engine ever. Giving airlines what they desire most, lower seat-mile costs.
The existing 777-300ER (77W) will be upgraded to the 777-9X with a list price of $377.2 million, an expected entry in to service (EIS) date of 2020, range of 8,200 nm (15,185 km), and passenger capacity of 406. The 777-200LR will be upgraded to the ultra-long-haul (ULH) 777-8X with a list price of $349.8 million, an EIS about 18 months after the -9X, range of 9,300 nm (17,220 km), and passenger capacity of 350 which is close to that of the existing 777-300ER. The “mini-jumbo” segment is hotly contested, pitting the 777X against the A350 XWB from European major, Airbus.While Boeing claims “the 777-8X competes directly with the A350-1000, while the 777-9X is in a class by itself”, Airbus counters saying Boeing has driven up passenger numbers to justify operating economics using the ultra-dense 17 inch width seating, as practised by Emirates and Etihad, when compared to the wider 18 inch seat width used by Airbus to arrive at its 350 seat A350-1000, which is due to enter service in 2017.Video of 777X