Boeing May Build The 777X Freighter Before The 777-8

At the recent Dubai Airshow, it was revealed that the Boeing 777-8 may have to wait until after Boeing launches a 777X freighter. Comments along these lines were made by senior leadership individuals at both Boeing and Emirates over the course of the past week.

Boeing 777X, Freighter, Emirates
Boeing has suggested that the 777X freighter could make it to market before the 777-8. Photo: Tom Boon – Simple Flying

The Boeing 777X finally seems to be becoming a reality. The next giant jet left the US for the first time to go on display at the Dubai Airshow before flying back to Seattle via Doha and Frankfurt. Now, all eyes are turned to deliveries that will commence in 2023, but what will come next?

Could we see a Freighter first?

At the Dubai Airshow, Airbus revealed its first A350 freighter customers, and it seems logical that Boeing would be keen to tackle this announcement. The most obvious answer would be a 777X freighter, which airlines have been expressing interest in for years.

777X at DAS
The 777X was already due to be delivered by now. Photo: Tom Boon | Simple Flying

It seems as though Boeing is aware that airlines want the 777X freighter. At a roundtable briefing ahead of the Dubai Airshow, Boeing’s Vice President, Commercial Sales & Marketing, Ihssane Mounir, commented,

“[The 777-8] is an airplane that is part of the family. We’ve always looked at it as the second or third in the family in terms of when it comes to market. Second to the 777-9, potentially third if we do the freighter, we don’t know.”

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Emirates also sees the freighter coming first

Interestingly, Tim Clark, President of Emirates (the largest customer of the 777X to date), made comments along the same lines at another round table discussion. Commenting on the program, Clark said,

“I’m aware that it is likely, you’ll have to check with Boeing, that the 777-8 will be pushed back… I’m not quite sure which will come first… Once they’ve got the thing flying the decision that Boeing will take with regard to the freighter or the 777X [will be made].”

Airlines are interested in a freighter

Airlines are showing that they are interested in a Boeing 777X freighter. When the aircraft was recently in Doha on its way back to Seattle, Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker revealed that his airline would be keen to order such an aircraft. Meanwhile, Lufthansa’s CEO, Carsten Spohr, made similar comments when the jet made an appearance in Frankfurt.

Boeing 777X, Freighter, Emirates
Emirates seems like a perfect customer for the 777X freighter. Photo: Emirates SkyCargo

It doesn’t seem out of the question that Emirates would order such a jet too. While Clark had been critical of delays to the program, it appears that he has been appeased, commenting,

“We are not moving away from [the 777X].”

The airline’s freighter business now exclusively uses the Boeing 777 family, with orders for two more jets placed at the Dubai Airshow. Clark commented that he wanted more jets but couldn’t secure them. With the freighter fleet slowly aging, it seems as though a 777X freighter could be the perfect replacement.

Do you think the 777X freighter will come to market before the 777-8? Let us know what you think and why in the comments!