Boeing's already-delayed 777X will add another year to its rollout timetable, with the launch of the next-generation jetliner set to be pushed back in light of Covid-19's dramatic impact on aviation and travel demand.
The aerospace manufacturer overnight confirmed that it now expects the first delivery of the Boeing 777X series – a 777-9 bound for launch customer Emirates – to take place in 2022, a year later than previously planned.
Also in line for the 777-9 are Lufthansa, Cathay Pacific, Singapore Airlines, Qatar Airways, British Airways and ANA.
However, with a recovery to pre-pandemic levels now not expected until 2024, airlines are racing to conserve cash and capital expenditure, which includes downsizing their fleets and scaling back on upgrade and expansion plans made during better times.
Combining the best attributes of the familiar and long-running Boeing 777-200 and -300 family with the high-tech advantages of the 787 Dreamliner's clean-sheet design, the big twin-engine 777X has also proven too big for airlines to fill in the immediate wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
Boeing plans to offer the 777X in two models: the mainstream 777-9 would be the debutante, with the longer-range 777-8 to follow.
Emirates recently observed that it doesn't expect to receive any planes before 2022, while several other Boeing 777X customers – among them Cathay Pacific and Qatar Airways – have also sought to press the pause button on new aircraft deliveries.
The Boeing 777-9 was also to serve as the launch platform for a new wave of business class seats and first class suites from Emirates, Lufthansa, Cathay Pacific, Singapore Airlines and Qatar Airways.