In a recent interview, Emirates President Sir Tim Clark said that Boeing’s 777x program appears to be in a “state of disarray.” Speaking to Simple Flying, Sir Tim said that the airline is unlikely to receive the first 777x until as late as 2025.
The comments follow close on the heels of Qatar Airways CEO, Akbar Al Baker, saying that he does not expect that Qatar Airlines would receive their first 777x until 2023.
Boeing had initially planned that the first aircraft of the type, an upgrade on its existing 777 model, would be delivered to airlines by the summer of 2020. However, the plane missed its debut at the 2019 Paris airshow, and since then Boeing has struggled to get the project back on the rails.
Boeing’s 777x is still suffering from a cascade of delays. The pandemic has not helped, nor has the company’s recent well-publicized problems with its 737 Max model. This and build quality concerns with the 787 have all added to the pressure the company is under and shifted valuable resources and manpower from the program.
Emirates Airlines is Boeing’s biggest customer for the 777x, with a total of 115 planes on order. In the interview with Simple Flying, Sir Tim said –
“I did have an engagement a couple of weeks ago with the head of Boeing civil Stan Deal. We were discussing mainly things around the 777 program, which is in a state of disarray at the moment. Now, for us, not being able to factor in the 777-9, or 777-8 at this stage is a little bit of a problem, so we had to have a conversation with them.”
There are at least 8 customers with orders for the 777x, totaling 320 aircraft. Aside from Emirates, other affected airlines are Qatar Airways (60), Singapore Airlines (31), Etihad Airways (25), Cathay Pacific (21), All Nippon Airways (20), Lufthansa (20) and British Airways (18). There are also 10 orders from unidentified customers.
Emirates was expected to be the launch customer for the aircraft, but that no longer appears to be the case. More recently Akber Al Baker went on record to say that he expected Qatar Airways to be the launch customer, after Lufthansa said that they were expecting to receive the first of the type.
Al Akber recently said that – “Qatar Airways is the launch customer of the Boeing 777X aircraft. We will take the 777X whenever it is ready, as soon as it is ready. In the year 2023, we will receive our first three 777X aircraft.”
It appears that Boeing’s disarray with the aircraft is spilling over to the airlines. In the meantime, Boeing has offered no firm dates about when the first customer 777x will roll off the production line, nor has it confirmed who it will be delivered to.