After the unveiling of Boeing’s new 777X jet last week, some of the largest Gulf airlines are set to book orders for the new plane amid hopes that the company would avoid the well-publicised problems of the 787 Dreamliner.
The newly announced jet is a 400-seat version of the 777, known as 777-9X, and 777-8X which would have a range of more than 9,300 nautical miles (17,200 km). According to Boeing, it was already in the process of selling an upgraded aircraft family code-named 777X. The new model has spurred a race against Airbus for sales of long-haul jets. Emirates and Qatar Airways are expected to be among the first and biggest customers of the new jet. These fast-growing Gulf carriers believe that as a result of the 787 Dreamliner setback, Boeing has now adopted a more focused approach and thinking.
The failure of the 787 Dreamliner battery system resulted in the grounding of planes causing losses of several millions of dollars to airlines around the world. Qatar Airways, which grounded all five of it’s Dreamliner aircraft, would receive compensation from Boeing. U.S. regulators lifted flight restrictions on the 787 last month after the company redesigned the lithium-ion battery system.
After the fix, Ethiopian Airlines, All Nippon Airways and Qatar Airways resumed flights on the revamped 787 Dreamliner. Currently, eight airlines operate Dreamliners including United Airlines, ANA, JAL, Air India Ltd, LATAM Airlines Group and LOT Polish Airlines. Reposing his faith in the airplane builder, Emirates’ President Tim Clark said, “Boeing came out of the ashes of the Sonic Cruiser years ago and came up with the Dreamliner, which was a leap of faith by any stretch. They were just beginning to stabilize when things went wrong again.”
Although Emirates has yet to include the Dreamliner in its fleet, it is the largest 777 operator and expects to replace about 175 jets in the coming years. Etihad Airways, another prominent Gulf airline, has 41 Dreamliners on order.