Boeing 777X delay hits new business class debuts for Lufthansa, Cathay

With first deliveries of the Boeing 777-9 pushed back to 2021, there's a knock-on effect for the debut of new business class.

By David Flynn, October 24 2019
Boeing 777X delay hits new business class debuts for Lufthansa, Cathay

Boeing is pushing back the first deliveries of its next-generation 777X jet until 2021, with a subsequent knock-on effect for the launch of competitive new business class seats by Lufthansa and Cathay Pacific.

While they're just two of the eight airlines which have ordered the 777-9, which Boeing plans to be first off the assembly line, both Lufthansa – which is also the launch customer for the 777X – and Cathay Pacific are planning new business class designs for the now-delayed jets. Cathay Pacific has also indicated its Boeing 777-9 would see the introduction of new first class suites.

Lufthansa will have to wait a little longer to roll out its new business class.
Lufthansa will have to wait a little longer to roll out its new business class.

As previously reported, Lufthansa's Boeing 777-9 business class will finally provide direct aisle access for every passenger: no more awkwardly stepping over your sleeping seatmate – or having them clamber across you, if you're next to the aisle. The layout alternates between rows of 1-2-1 and 1-1-1, so that every second row provides a centre 'throne' seat.

Read more: Lufthansa's new Boeing 777X business class seats revealed

The smaller but longer-range Boeing 777-8 is Boeing's candidate for Qantas' Project Sunrise fleet, which is intended to begin non-stop flights from Sydney and Melbourne to London and New York by 2023. Qantas is also considering the Airbus A350-1000, and is expected to reveal which aircraft will win the prestigious contract by the end of this year.

Troubled twins: the Boeing 777-9 and 777-8.
Troubled twins: the Boeing 777-9 and 777-8.

Boeing confirmed overnight its revised delivery schedule for the first 777-9 during the company's third quarter earnings, saying that while the first test flight of the 777X is still "on track" to take place in early 2020, "the company is now targeting early 2021 for first delivery of the 777X."

The 777X, which blends aspects of the 787 Dreamliner family with the long-running 777-300ER jet, has experienced issues with with its General Electric GE9X engine, the largest ever produced for an airliner.

Emirates is Boeing's largest 777X customer, with a staggering 150 of the planes on order; other airlines to have signed on the dotted line include ANA, British Airways, Etihad Airways, Qatar Airways and Singapore Airlines. 


David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

07 Dec 2014

Total posts 181

Will customers really have faith in a new Boeing jet after what has happened with the 737 Max?

I would certainly think twice about flying on a new model 777 until it had been flying reliably for a number of years.

08 Feb 2018

Total posts 125

everyone conveniently forgets that an Air France A330 thought it was stalling too and caused the pilots to crash the plane into the ocean. Both Airbus and Boeing have had tech issues that have led to accidents, they're very rare and are thoroughly investigated.


11 Jul 2014

Total posts 728

Come on, Air France pilots stuffed up flying at night, when the captain came in to see what was going on it was to late even though he realised straight away. The pilots didn't stuff up on the 2 crashes.

08 Feb 2018

Total posts 125

I didn't apportion any blame, I said tech issues led to the accidents. All 3 planes had a tech issue which led to a computer response. In all 3 cases the pilots didn't understand what the computer was doing. The AF pilots responded to a computer pitch down by pulling up when they shouldn't have. Lion Air and Ethiopian kept pitching down and the pilots couldn't work out why in time.

24 Apr 2012

Total posts 2585

Time to get the discussion here back on-track and on-topic to the article, being the Boeing 777X. Readers who wish to continue discussing other aircraft like the Boeing 737 MAX or the Airbus A330 are most welcome to do so in the Community area.

11 Dec 2015

Total posts 88

I wonder what this will do for Boeing's bid for Qantas' sunrise project.

From what I remember Boeing's offer seemed to be heading towards an interim use of 777-9s with a lower density config, which would be swapped onto other Qantas routes once the 777-8 was available. If deliveries of the -9 don't even start until 2021, I wonder where Qantas would end up in the queue, and whether they would even be able to get planes by 2023.

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 1032

There is no way Boeing can fulfil the tender requirements of Sunrise by 2023 so will have had to have proposed a non-complying alternative. It is questionable whether a 779 could do JFK-SYD with an economic load and pretty much assured it couldn't do JFK-MEL or SYD-LHR profitably.

Of course, Boeing may choose to compensate QF for uneconomic loads but the business case for continuing with the 778 is pretty slim for Boeing already. Given the project's current situation, it may be more profitable to encourage QR and EK to transfer their 778 orders to 789s and cancel the type altogether.

14 Oct 2016

Total posts 102

I'm not sure Qantas would want to use the 777-9 for a period up until the 777-8 became available. Since it would have to run a lower passenger configuration, the running costs compared to an a350 would be a lot higher as the a350 is significantly lighter.

I also don't think it would be wise for Boeing to go out of their way to get the order as it could end up costing them money with all the compensation and discounts that Qantas would require to make it competitive, and for an order that is likely to be less than 20 aircraft total during its lifetime.

11 Dec 2015

Total posts 88

"an order that is likely to be less than 20 aircraft total during its lifetime"

True. I think the idea was that whoever got the "sunrise" order would likely pick up more sales as Qantas replaces its A380, 747 and 332/333 fleets, but given the trend for downsizing and the fact that Qantas is already swapping 747s for Dreamliners running more diverse routes, that might be a hard sell.

30 Aug 2017

Total posts 36

"Given the project's current situation, it may be more profitable to encourage QR and EK to transfer their 778 orders to 789s and cancel the type altogether."

Both QR and EK need 778 for their ULR flights. Akbar Al Baker already mentioned that 778 were going to replace their 772LR jets to fly routes like DOH-AKL. If they convert their 778 orders to 789, they cannot fly those URL routes currently flown by 772LRs.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

06 Oct 2016

Total posts 116

Unless of course they have shifted their schedule to accommodate Sunrise

Cathay probably wouldn't mind deferring some $400 Million bills, the Germans are pragmatic, will do it for a discount that covers efficiency loss :) Emirates is harder, there is a lot of "prestige" in their mindset.

I have no idea and personally hope the 350 is the choice, but my job involves horse trading (well, donkeys) and that is exactly what these guys do


11 Jul 2014

Total posts 728

The old saying "If it's not Boeing I'm not going" has changed to "If it's Boeing I'm not going"

United Airlines - Mileage Plus

12 Sep 2011

Total posts 263

Well in US in Septemeber testing on ground on the 777X had exploding cargo doors simulating cruising altitude conditions . Not so widely publicized was it? Immediately pulished in the UK there would be massive delayes as US air authorities could not allow an in-air test We have all heard if its Boeing I'm not going. The recent grounding of the A222 by Swiss doesn't get much mention either

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

27 Nov 2017

Total posts 18

I'm thinking an A350-1000 choice for QF Project Sunrise. Seems as though QF can relatively seamlessly transfer A380 pilots onto the plane once the A380 is retired in 10 or so years. The plane also fits nicely as a general workhorse (in non-ULR form) between A380s and 789s once the 747s are gone.

The same can't be said for 777-8s which would be stuck on ULR routes. Idle A380 pilot transitions would be harder as well.

PS: Interestingly, I've always rooted for QF to have 777s in their fleet. I'm just being pragmatic now.

09 Jun 2017

Total posts 27

Has anyone even thought for a moment that Qantas may order both the A350 AND the 779/8? LHR and JFK have very different load demands therefore Qantas would be better served by 2 different payloads for sunrise. It appears anyway that Airbus has submitted a contender that doesn't have the legs to meet the range Sunrise requires unless Qantas is willing to do a low density Singapore Airlines configuration.


05 Jun 2012

Total posts 129

Turns out the 777X test didn't just involve a blow-out of a door, but rupture of the entire fuselage. And yet because they were only 1% off the required limit it is being said by an (admittedly anonymous and unauthorised) FAA engineer that "it barely constitutes a failure" and it is also being suggested that the test might not need to be redone, because Boeing can show through software simulation that the problem has been fixed. An official FAA spokesman went on to say :“The FAA requires manufacturers to meet design and certification standards ... how they choose to do that is up to them.”

Boeing - software - no review by FAA... Does any of that sound familiar?

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