Boeing has announced that British Airways parent company, IAG (International Airlines Group), has placed an order for 18 Boeing 777-9 aircraft, with options for a further 24.
Fleet upgrade programme
The 18 confirmed aircraft, which have a combined list price of almost US $8 billion, will directly replace a large part of the airline’s ageing fleet of 34 Boeing 747-400 aircraft, the last of which is due for retirement in early 2024. British Airways already operates 12 Boeing 777-300ER, the largest variant of the current generation 777, and last year placed an order for four more, three of which are yet to be delivered. Its long-haul fleet also includes 46 Boeing 777-200, 30 787-8/-9 Dreamliners, with 12 787-10 on order, and 12 Airbus A380. In November last year, the airline retired its last Boeing 767.
British Airways has been looking for a suitable 747 replacement for many years. So far, the British flag carrier has been filling the gap with the 777-300ER, supported by an order for 18 Airbus A350-1000; the first of which is due to be delivered in July this year. Along with additional A350-1000s, rumours have even included BA toying with the idea of additional Airbus A380s, however the termination of the A380 program together with today’s order almost certainly rules that out.
The flag carrier of the United Kingdom was one of the selected partner airlines that were involved in the development of the original 777 program in the early 90’s. Boeing touts the 777-9 as around 30% more fuel efficient than the 747-400, whilst offering almost identical passenger capacity and an increased range. When the 777-9 enters service in 2020 with Lufthansa, it will be the largest twin-engine aircraft type in the world.
Matt is a London-based writer and reporter for International Flight Network who has been involved in aviation from a very young age. He has a particular focus on aircraft safety, accidents and technical details.