British Airways (BA) has chosen the Boeing 777X to re-equip part of its long-haul fleet, signing an agreement with the manufacturer for up to 42 777-9s, comprising 18 orders and 24 options. The jets are due to be delivered from 2022 to 2025.
The 777-9 purchase continues the large fleet renewal that has been underway at BA for much of this decade and has seen the airline introduce the 787, 777-300ER and A380 and begin phasing out its 747-400s. The 777-9s will be used to serve the carrier’s long-haul trunk routes, replacing older 777s and the 747-400s the airline uses to operate the bulk of this network.
BA will also use 18 Airbus A350- 1000s, the first of which will be delivered this summer, to operate these routes. The A380 is used for routes with the largest passenger flows and the 787s for network development and routes with thinner passenger demand.
BA is planning to phase out its last 747 in 2023 and Willie Walsh, the Chief Executive Officer of BA’s parent company IAG, described the 777-9 as a “perfect replacement”, saying: “This aircraft will provide further cost efficiencies and environmental benefits with fuel cost per seat improvements of 30% compared to the 747. It also provides an enhanced passenger experience.”
Ordering the 777-9 continues BA’s long relationship with the Triple Seven. BA was a launch customer for the original 777 back in 1990, the initial European operator in 1995 and is one of the largest 777 operators worldwide, with a fleet of 58.
Taking 777-9s means the airline will gain from commonality in spares and maintenance with the current 777 and shared type ratings for crews. With BA’s sizeable 777 fleet, there is clearly further potential for Boeing to sell more 777-9s to IAG.
BA’s selection of the 777-9 meant Boeing had sold 344 777Xs by early March, comprising 291 777-9s and 53 777-8s, after Etihad Airways, one of the 777X launch customers in 2013, cut down its 777-9 order from 25 to just six jets.