Squirreled away in a court document relating to an issue with cargo airline Volga-Dnepr, Boeing inadvertently announced an order for its giant widebody the 777X. The court documents suggest that a mystery airline has ordered a couple of 777F, an unnamed quantity of Dreamliners, and the 777X. The order is set to be firmed up by June 30.
Boeing inadvertently announces an order
Boeing seems to have secured an order for the 777X, along with the 787, from an unnamed customer. The revelation came from a court filing involving Volga-Dnepr, a cargo airline, which had lost out on a number of 747-8Fs due to lack of financing.
To cut a long story short, Volga-Dnepr was unable to pay for its previously ordered 747s, so Boeing sold them on to an unnamed customer, referred to as ‘Customer A’. 12 months down the line, Volga got its hands on enough money to pay for the planes and advised Boeing it was ready to take delivery.
By this point, however, Boeing had already finalized a resale of the aircraft to ‘Customer A’ and told Volga it couldn’t have them. Clearly unhappy with the outcome, Volga sued Boeing. While the court decided in Boeing’s favor, the documents threw up something unexpected – an April 2nd purchase agreement with another airline.
The unnamed customer, ‘Customer B’, had signed an agreement to purchase two of the three 777Fs meant for Volga-Dnepr. More interestingly, this was tied in with an order for the Dreamliner and the 777-9.
The court document secured by the Seattle Times states that,
“In recognition of Customer’s partnership with Boeing as a 777 and 787 customer in [REDACTED], Boeing will issue to Customer a multi-model aircraft credit memorandum in the amount of [REDACTED], contingent on Customer executing definitive agreements to purchase (i) Model 777-9 aircraft and (ii) additional Model 787 aircraft no later than June 30, 2020.”
Why is this big news?
This is really very exciting news, both for Boeing and for the 777X. There have been no new orders for the 777X in 2020. In fact, apart from the British Airways order for 18 777X in March 2019 and a 20 plane order by Singapore Airlines in 2017, there haven’t been any orders for the type since 2014.
With the rebound of commercial flying predicted to be slow for some years to come, many have been questioning whether the 777X even has a place in modern aviation. To secure a new order now, in the current climate, will be a massive boost for Boeing and for the entire 777X program.
Who is the order from?
Of course, what we all really want to know is, who is this mystery ‘Customer B’? There are clearly a limited number of airlines that would fit into the profile of this customer, in that not only are they ordering the 777X and the Dreamliner, but also taking the two 777F that should originally have gone to Volga-Dnepr.
Rumors point to the East for the answer. Specifically, eyes are on ANA, EVA Air, or one of the big Chinese airlines to be behind the order. Many of these airlines have strong cargo arms alongside passenger ops and are already seeing a route map out of the crisis, so may be in a position to order.
Front runner, if you believe the internet, has to be EVA Air. It recently retired the last of its 747F, so needs some more cargo capacity. It is already working to replace its A330s with Dreamliners for long haul and could see a future where the 777X fits into its fleet.
Of course, this is all speculation, but according to the court documents, we shouldn’t have to wait too long for confirmation. We’ll let you know on June 30!
What’s your prediction for the mystery customer? Let us know in the comments.