Coronavirus Could Be A Good Thing For The Boeing 777X

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Deferring deliveries, canceling orders and retiring large aircraft seems to indicate that the Boeing 777X is ill-timed for launch. However, we would argue that the time has never been better for Boeing to launch a new state of the art aircraft. With retiring A380s, 747s and a chance to modernize fleets, airlines will be ready for the flagship type when it arrives next year.

Boeing 777X, Test Program, First Flight
The Boeing 777X is perfectly set for airlines following the end of this crisis. Photo: Boeing

What are the details?

The Boeing 777X is currently under development by Boeing and should be delivered to airlines sometime in the early months of 2021. Whilst production of the model and testing of the prototypes has delayed thanks to the coronavirus, Boeing is still confident that it will be ready in 2021 for airlines that have ordered the type.

Speaking of which, these are the airlines that currently have the 777X on order:

Customer Combined orders
Lufthansa 20
Etihad Airways 25
Cathay Pacific 21
Emirates 115
Qatar Airways 60
All Nippon Airways 20
Unidentified customer(s) 10
Singapore Airlines 20
British Airways 18
Total 309

If you have not been following the 777X development and don’t know why it is such a fantastic plane, then we suggest you read this article here.

Boeing 777X Test Flight Getty Images
The first test flight of the Boeing 777X in January, however, progress has since stalled. Photo: Getty Images

Arguments for why the Boeing 777X is not needed

Critics have pointed out that airline industry seems to be moving in the opposite direction from Boeing’s 777X world.

Airlines have been grounding and retiring large aircraft like the Airbus A380 and the Boeing 747, conveniently using this crisis as an excuse to move these large money pits off their books. Why would they be interested in taking on board any new aircraft, especially one as large and expensive as the Boeing 777X?

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Additionally, airlines don’t have any money to accept new aircraft. Some flag carriers are barely hanging on and it would be foolish to assume they can pick up a few billion dollars in new aircraft during this crisis, or even in the next few years as they recover.

Whilst both of these are solid arguments, there are two counterpoints

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The Boeing 777X is needed for routes

An interesting point is that if these airlines get rid of the A380 and 747, there is now a missing aircraft in their fleet. Airlines will not have an aircraft that can perform profitable long-distance high-capacity routes that favor the A380 and 747.

This might include routes like Los Angeles to Dubai, New York to Singapore and Mexico City to Madrid, currently performed by these aircraft and perfect for the 777X.

Boeing 777X Routes
Some potential 777X routes as highlighted by Boeing. Photo: Boeing

Airlines will use the Boeing 777X to modernize

Moving onto the second point about airlines not being enthusiastic about spending money on new aircraft, there is a strong counter to that.

Looking at the bigger picture, it is not just large aircraft that airlines are retiring. For example, American Airlines has brought forward the retirement of its Boeing 757 and 767 types among others.

With the ‘weaker’ aircraft from the fleet cut and improved operating margins, airlines will be more profitable and ready to take onboard new advanced airframes like the Boeing 777X.

Boeing 777x
The high efficiency of the 777X will make it a positive addition to airlines’ fleets. Photo: Boeing

They might not be ready to pay for them just yet, but it would be too expensive for them to ignore the opportunity the aircraft brings. Especially if they no longer have the 747 or A380.

It is for these two reasons that we can suggest that the Boeing 777X will replace the Airbus A380 and Boeing 747 well within the next five years. Its design, modern engines and, cost effeciency place it in the perfect position to take over the mantle from the twin giants of our skies.

What do you think? Is the Boeing 777X poised to take over from the A380 and 747? Let us know in the comments!

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