Etihad kicks off Dubai airshow with mamomth Boeing 777-9X, 777-8X and 787-10 order

by Devesh Agarwal

From top, clockwise, Boeing CGI of Etihad 787-10, 777-8X, 777-9X

United Arab Emirates’ (UAE) national carrier, Etihad Airways PJSC, kicked off the Dubai Air Show with a massive order for 56 wide-body Boeing aircraft with options to purchase for an additional 26 aircraft taking the quantity up to 82 at a list price valuation of $25.2 billion.

The Abu Dhabi-based carrier’s order includes 25 777X airplanes, comprising 17 777-9Xs and eight 777-8Xs, subject to program launch. Etihad Airways is the first airline to order the 777-8X and will be a launch customer of the airplane, which is expected to enter service around the end of the decade. The order includes options and purchase rights for 12 additional 777X airplanes.

The airline also ordered 30 Boeing 787-10 Dreamliners, the high-capacity, medium-haul, and longest member of the Dreamliner family. Combined with the carrier’s previous orders for 41 787-9s, today’s order makes Etihad the world’s largest airline customer for the Dreamliner family with a total of 71 787s on order. The order includes options and purchase rights for an additional 12 787-10s.

Today’s announcement also includes the milestone 1,000th Boeing 787 Dreamliner to be ordered.

Etihad also ordered one Boeing 777F freighter which is based on the 777-200LR.

The 777X is the upgrade of the venerable Boeing 777 family featuring new composite wings as seen on the 747-8 and 787 family aircraft, along with new GEnx engines which GE promises will be about 10% more fuel efficient. The 777X

The Boeing 777-9X is a stretched, more fuel-efficient version of Boeing ultra-popular 777-300ER. Typically seating 400 passengers, the 777-9X will be capable of flying the same distances as its predecessor, but with up to 40 more passengers, with lower operating costs and reduced fuel consumption per seat. The 777-9X was launched less than two months ago with an order from German flag carrier Lufthansa. Eithad is expected to start receiving its 777-9X from 2020.

The Boeing 777-8X is an upgraded version of the ultra long-haul Boeing 777-200LR, which Etihad recently purchased from Indian flag carrier Air India, to serve the Abu Dhabi – Los Angeles route. The -8X will replace the LRs when the start arriving in 2022. [Read our analysis on why the 777-200LR is ill-suited to Air India’s operations]

The Boeing 787-10 is the largest and latest version of the Dreamliner family, typically carrying more than 320 passengers, up to 50 more than the 787-9 which Etihad Airways will introduce late in 2014. The aircraft will be capable of flying between Abu Dhabi and medium-haul destinations such as Dublin or Johannesburg, and it is expected to be deployed on high capacity medium haul routes by the airline. Final assembly and flight test of the 787-10 are set to begin in 2017, with first delivery targeted for 2018. Boeing launched the 787-10 earlier this year, at the Paris Air Show.

All the aircraft in this order will be powered by General Electric GE9X, GEnx and GE90 engines. Etihad ordered 57 GE9X engines which will power Etihad Airways’ 25 new Boeing 777X aircraft, 68 GEnx-1B engines for the airline’s 30 new Boeing 787-10 aircraft, and two GE90-115B engines which will be used on its new Boeing 777-200F freighter.

Etihad Airways currently has 86 aircraft in operation, with more than 80 aircraft on firm order. Its last major aircraft deal was made at the Farnborough Air Show in 2008, where Etihad Airways announced firm orders for 100 aircraft, including 45 Boeing aircraft, in a long-term order which was at the time one of the largest in aviation history.

About Devesh Agarwal

A electronics and automotive product management, marketing and branding expert, he was awarded a silver medal at the Lockheed Martin innovation competition 2010. He is ranked 6th on Mashable's list of aviation pros on Twitter and in addition to Bangalore Aviation, he has contributed to leading publications like Aviation Week, Conde Nast Traveller India, The Economic Times, and The Mint (a Wall Street Journal content partner). He remains a frequent flier and shares the good, the bad, and the ugly about the Indian aviation industry without fear or favour.

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