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.
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.
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.
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.