You would have to be living under a rock to have missed Air India’s recent huge aircraft order. Both Airbus and Boeing received nods for various products, but the one that stuck out for me was the Boeing 777-9 order.

Just 10 aircraft have been ordered and it seems to be tacked on to the deal as a bit of an afterthought. By comparison, the Indian carrier elected to order 40 of the competing Airbus A350, which is interesting.

Boeing 777 Woes

For years, the Boeing 777 has been the long-haul aircraft of choice for many airlines around the world. It essentially has the capacity of the Boeing 747, but is far more efficient as it is a much more modern design.

The next generation version, the Boeing 777-8 and Boeing 777-9, were originally slated to enter service in 2020. This has now been pushed out to 2025, which has resulted in some airlines introducing their new on board products on other aircraft first.

Air India’s Boeing 777-9 Order

According to the Boeing Press Release, the Boeing 777-9 has “new breakthroughs in aerodynamics and engines, (and) the 777-9 will provide 10% lower fuel use and emissions and 10% lower operating costs than the competition.” While that’s a bold claim for an aircraft still in testing, the Seattle manufacturer certainly knows how to do its mathematics.

When you look at the orderbook, the new 777 has over half of its 363 orders from two carriers, Emirates (115) and Qatar Airways (74). Apart from that, the airlines planning to operate the jet are a roll call of some of the most familiar brands in the world, such as Singapore Airlines (31), Lufthansa (27), Etihad (25), Cathay Pacific (21), ANA (20) and British Airways (18).

Meanwhile, Air India’s Boeing 777-9 order is just 10 aircraft. Heading across the Atlantic, Airbus received 40 orders from Air India for its popular A350. Their press release quite naturally says, “The A350’s clean sheet design includes state-of-the-art technologies and aerodynamics delivering unmatched standards of efficiency and comfort.”

To be fair to Boeing, the A350 was also delayed, finally entering service in 2015. It has proven much more popular, with 925 orders to date, including all of the airlines (apart from ANA) who ordered the competing aircraft.

Will The Boeing Be A Success?

Considering none of the airlines have yet to cancel their Boeing 777-8 or Boeing 777-9 orders, there is no reason to think the aircraft won’t be successful. It reminds me a little bit of the A380 situation, where almost half the production run (123/251) went to Emirates.

A lot of the new 777s orderbook is with Emirates and Qatar Airways. As long as both those airlines continue to be successful, so will the new Boeing. All it needs now is to be delivered.

Overall Thoughts

Air India’s Boeing 777-9 order reminded me of how many airlines aren’t clamouring for Boeing’s newest aircraft. Telling was the selection by Qantas of the Airbus A350 for their ultra-long haul flights. That was a long competition and it eventually went to the European manufacturer.

I honestly would be surprised to see very many other airlines select the US product. The scales seem to be tipping against extremely large aircraft these days. Smaller ones that can fly point to point routes more efficiently are more in vogue.

What do you think of the Air India Boeing 777-9 order? Will it get delivered or would you expect them to cancel it? Thank you for reading and if you have any comments or questions, please leave them below.

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