The Boeing 777X promises a lot, and its entry into service is eagerly anticipated. With the slowdown in aviation in 2020, airlines may not be too anxious about Boeing’s recently confirmed delays. Lufthansa, now the launch customer for the 777X, will be affected by this and will now receive its first aircraft in 2022. This article takes a look at the delivery plan and what we can expect from Lufthansa’s 777X.
20 777X aircraft on order
Lufthansa was one of the first airlines to confirm an order for the 777X. Emirates was the first, ordering six aircraft in November 2011. Lufthansa’s order was placed in November 2013. Etihad Airways and Cathay Pacific also confirmed orders by the end of 2013. Emirates confirmed its full order of a further 150 aircraft in July 2014. It has since reduced this but remains by far the largest customer.
Lufthansa’s current order is for 20 777-9 aircraft. This is the larger of the two variants and is the first to be developed. Lufthansa had originally placed an order for 34 aircraft but converted 14 of these to options in November 2019. With the slowdown now experienced, it seems this was a good move by Lufthansa.
Delivery delayed until 2022
When the 777X was launched and the first orders places, Boeing hoped to make the first delivery of the aircraft from 2019. This was delayed, though, mainly due to engine problems and pressure test failure, and the first flights did not take place until the start of 2020.
In July 2020, Boeing announced further delays to the program, with the first aircraft expected to be delivered, to Luftansa, in 2022. As recently as just over two weeks before this, Luftansa was still expecting delivery in 2021. It confirmed this in a statement to Simple Flying.
Of course, Lufthansa is not the only airline affected. Work has begun on aircraft for Emirates as well, and it confirmed in December that it would not receive its first aircraft until 2023. Emirates has already swapped 30 of its original 777X order for 787-9 aircraft.
Exactly when in 2022 delivery is expected is not clear yet. In September, Executive Traveller reported unconfirmed comments that CEO Carsten Spohr had told staff it would not arrive before the second quarter of 2022.
Lufthansa’s first aircraft is already flying
A major milestone was reached for the 777X in 2020, with the first flight taking place in January. The second and third test aircraft have since been completed and begun flights. Boeing and Lufthansa confirmed in August that the third testbed will head to Lufthansa after completing tests with Boeing.
Such a transfer from manufacturer test aircraft to a customer is not uncommon. It will only have been in service for around a year (perhaps less), and once tests are complete and certification achieved, it makes sense to move test aircraft into commercial service. The first 777 produced as a test aircraft actually went on serve with Cathay Pacific for 18 years.
The 777X promises a lot. It may well be one of the most significant changes in aviation in recent times, as we have reported before. It offers huge capacity, pushing the possibilities of twin engines further. It has the largest and most powerful engines to date but still promises improved efficiency. And its folding wingtips get around the challenges faced by the A380 in possible operating locations.
But, for individual airlines, the big differences come in the interiors. Lufthansa promises a lot here. Total passenger capacity will be around 400, less than the 426 possible capacity. The first aircraft will be delivered with three cabins – economy, premium economy, and business class. First class will be added later; it will not feature on the first aircraft deliveries.
The premium economy seat was revealed in 2019 and will also feature on SWISS aircraft. Business class will be a new design, much improved over its current 2-2-2 on the A350).
First class has been hinted at, but no designs have been released. Blog The Points Guy spoke to Lufthansa in October 2020 regarding this. It confirmed that first class will not feature on the first aircraft deliveries and that a decision would be made later on its future. With a strong commitment to first class elsewhere, though, it seems likely to stay.
Introducing a new business class
Just as British Airways did with the A350, Lufthansa will use the new aircraft to release a new business class. It will not be retrofitted to older aircraft.
Lufthansa revealed the design for its new business class in 2019, and it’s impressive. It will feature an alternating 1-2-1 and 1-1-1 seat configuration, with every seat offering direct aisle access. Some seats will also be larger, offering a longer flatbed. And the central seats of the 1-1-1 sections will have a throne feel, with additional storage space and access to both aisles.
Any more changes?
Much has changed since Lufthansa’s initial 777X order in 2013. Development and delivery of the aircraft have been delayed twice. Lufthansa has cut its order (as has major customer Emirates). And, of course, the aviation industry has experienced unprecedented changes.
Recent announcements suggest that delivery will continue as planned, just later, but more changes could be possible. Simple Flying reported in April 2020, for example, that Lufthansa could be interested in swapping 777-9 orders for 777 Freighters. This has not been confirmed, but with the growing reliance on freight seen in 2020, it would not be surprising.
The delay in 777X delivery is unlikely to cause too much concern for Lufthansa (or other airlines) in terms of capacity. Any return to previous levels of passenger numbers is some way off. But if further delays occur and later deliveries are affected, it could start to have an impact. Lufthansa, though, is likely more concerned about the delay in launching its new business class. Executive Traveller recently discussed the possibility of expediting this on new A350 aircraft, but again this is not confirmed.
Are you looking forward to the introduction of the 777X and Lufthansa’s plans for it? Do you think we will see any further changes? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.