Dubai: Boeing on Wednesday said it expects its 777x jets to enter commercial service in two years. The twin-engine jetliner is running at least two-and-a-half years behind its originally planned arrival of June 2020.
“Our flight test programme for the 777x is moving forward very well – we are working regularly with the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) to meet their expectations and requirements,” said Randy Heisey, Managing Director, Commercial Marketing - Middle East & Africa at Boeing.
“We are looking forward to entry into service in just two years … where it will provide unparalleled capability and efficiency with the lowest seat loss of any airplane in its wide body category,” said Heisey, during a media briefing ahead of the Dubai Airshow.
Dubai’s Emirates airline is Boeing’s biggest 777x customer with 115 firm orders. In the past, Emirates President Tim Clark has publicly expressed his annoyance with the plane-maker on several occasions on delays surrounding the jet.
Boeing sees with long-haul travel expected to be the last segment to recover, airlines will mostly opt for smaller, more fuel-efficient airplanes. Wide-body aircraft are also a challenge for airlines because of their size and costs to acquire and operate.
“During the first 10-year period of the forecast, the impact is very apparent with deliveries down about 7 per cent compared to our forecast last year - decline is deeper in wide-body airplanes, which are down almost 10 per cent, compared to the prior forecast,” said Heisey.
According to Boeing’s forecast, more than 19,000 airplanes will be required by the industry over the 10-year period, out of which more than 14,000 will be single-aisle jets and 3,000 wide-body airplanes.
The company also lowered its 20-year demand forecast for widebody jets by 8 per cent, compared to its previous estimate.
Boeing said there will be demand for 70 freighters in the Middle East over the next 20 years.
“The vast majority of those will be in the large category size - however, we’re seeing increasing growth for some conversion aircraft in the smaller size categories,” said Heisey.
For several Middle East airlines, the cargo segment has helped offset low passenger traffic. Etihad airways, which recorded revenues of $300 million for the first six months of 2021, reported a 44 per cent increase in freight carried to 365,500 tonnes.
Boeing said global airlines could achieve savings of $9 billion on fuel costs alone over the next 15-20 years, if older airplanes are replaced by new, more efficient aircraft.
For Middle East carriers, a change in the fleet will result in $3.5 billion in fuel savings and almost $6 billion in operating cost savings.