Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 6 August 2020

CORONAVIRUS

Boeing set to delay 777X as Covid-19 crisis clips demand for wide-body jets

The company is continuing test flights for the model, which was expected to be delivered to its first customers next year, according to Reuters

A Boeing 777X airplane takes off on its inaugural flight at Paine Field in Everett, Washington on January 25, 2020. AFP.
A Boeing 777X airplane takes off on its inaugural flight at Paine Field in Everett, Washington on January 25, 2020. AFP.

Boeing is planning to delay the debut of its new 777X jet by several months or up to a year as the coronavirus crisis clips demand for the industry's biggest aircraft.

The Chicago-based plane maker aims to deliver the jet as passenger air travel recovers from the slump caused by the pandemic, Reuters reported, citing sources familiar with the matter. It also hopes for a thaw in the trade war between Washington and Beijing that has kept crucial Chinese aircraft buyers at bay.

The announcement of the delay may come as soon as next week when Boeing announces its earnings, Reuters said.

Boeing said it was continuing 777X flight tests and “working closely with our customers around the world as they continue to adapt to the evolving Covid-19 situation”. It declined to comment on the 777X timeline.

Emirates, the aircraft’s top customer, does not expect to receive any 777X planes before 2022, Bloomberg reported earlier this month, citing Adel Al Redha, the carrier’s chief operating officer.

Boeing's 777X is expected to miss its planned debut in 2021 when the larger version of the 777 mini-jumbo was supposed to be delivered to customers.

The plane is already behind schedule after facing glitches with its General Electric GE9X engines, among other issues.

Another delay is now likely in the cards but Boeing wants to get production “going hard” to put planes in the air by 2022-2023, Reuters reported.

Aircraft buyers are reluctant to take delivery of large aircraft when the pandemic has forced them to shrink operations.

The 777X will be the first new jet to be introduced since the grounding of Boeing's 737 Max following two fatal crashes, so it is expected to face greater scrutiny from the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and other global aviation regulators.

Updated: July 25, 2020 12:05 PM

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