The world is eagerly anticipating the first deliveries of the Boeing 777X. Many airlines have already made their move to secure 777X aircraft for their fleet, but from which other airlines might we expect potential orders?
Candidates for the 777X
Despite missing its first flight yesterday (24th January 2020), it hopefully won’t be long before the Boeing 777X is in our skies. Making its first appearance when the program launched back in November 2013, a number of airlines, including launch customer Lufthansa, have placed orders for the aircraft. However, not everyone has jumped at the bait. In fact, there are still some aging widebody fleets which could benefit from the introduction of the 777X.
Firstly let’s look at which aircraft the 777X best replaces. Those airlines with aging 747 fleets could certainly benefit from the 777X. Whilst the 777X is not a direct replacement, lacking some of the passenger seating and range capacity of the 747, it does come close. Particularly, it improves on fuel efficiency from the 747.
What’s more, just because the 777X doesn’t match the range of the 747, it still has a decent mileage: 7,525 nautical miles against the 8,000 that the 747 can do. Airlines looking for widebody aircraft capable of in-demand long-haul routes would be perfect candidates.
Aside from 747 replacements, any airlines with aging widebody 767, A330, and A380 fleets to name but a few would benefit from the 777X as a replacement. In a no means exhaustive list, here are some of the airlines that could use the 777X.
With a fleet of aging Boeing 747 aircraft, Qantas would be a good candidate for the Boeing 777X. It currently has six 747 in its fleet with an average age of 16.9 years. The airline first acquired the jumbo jet back in 1971 and has owned many of the model up to the present time. It has yet to invest in the 777X although it could be valuable.
For Qantas, however, the 777X could do more than replace its 747 fleet. The airline also has 12 Airbus A380 aircraft with an average age of 10.4 years old. The 777-8 has a superior range to the A380 by around 690 nautical miles making it a good replacement in terms of maintaining and developing networks.
Another airline that could make good use of a 777X investment would be Thai Airways. It operates only widebody aircraft including nine 747s with an average age of 20.8 years. The airline also has 32 older 777 aircraft in the -200 and -300 variants.
Compared to the first generation aircraft that Thai Airways owns, the 777X could provide more seating (depending on the variant) and much more range. Here’s how the aircraft compare:
|Range||5,240 nmi||6,030 nmi||8,690 nmi||7,525 nmi|
Interestingly, Thai Airways has plans to retire its 747, 777-300, and 777-200 aircraft within the next four years. Despite that, it has no replacement aircraft on order. Could the 777X be on the cards?
Turkish Airlines has many widebodied aircraft in its fleet including 68 A330 aircraft in the -200 and -300 variants. Whilst these aircraft are not the oldest, they do make up a significant portion of the Turkish Airlines fleet. At 7.6 years old on average, the aircraft do not need replacing according to their age but if Turkish Airlines did want to invest in newer, more fuel-efficient and environmentally friendly aircraft then the 777X would be a good addition to the fleet.
An order of the 777X could eventually help the airline to grow and branch out into unchartered territory. It already flies to more cities than any other airline in the world and yet it still has more countries where it could make a significant investment. For some of the more long-haul routes, the 777X could come in use.
Air Asia X
Air Asia X is a wholly widebody operated airline with a fleet of 24 A330-300 aircraft. Like Turkish Airlines, the aircraft are only 7.6 years old but to maintain that competitive edge, Air Asia X could consider replacing some for the Boeing 777X. The Malaysian airline has not previously operated Boeing aircraft but if it was looking to invest in a more long-haul network, a 777X would give it at least 1,000 additional nautical miles in range.
Virgin Atlantic has an eligible fleet that could benefit from the Boeing 777X. That’s because it still has 747 aircraft. Although it only has seven 747-400s, they have an average age of 19.6 years. However, Virgin Atlantic is aware of its aging fleet. It already has plans to replace the aircraft by 2021 and its chosen the Airbus A350-1000 to do so.
In truth, the A350-1000 offers a similar service to the Boeing 777X. Whilst it has a poorer fuel capacity and less passenger seating it does offer a better range. The A350-1000 grants nearly 1,000 additional nautical miles compared to the 777-9.
So could Virgin Atlantic us the 777X to replace its Airbus A330 fleet? Unfortunately, that is also already taken care of. At 11.1 years old on average, the fleet will be slowly retired to be replaced by the A330-900neo.
Virgin Atlantic could have used the 777X as an option for its fleet development but rival aircraft have swept the business from under Boeing.
What other airlines do you think could order the Boeing 777X? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!