How battle of big twins will shape up

[Ref Flight International Magazine 11-17 Feb 2020]

The first flight of the 777-9 is expected to clear the way for deliveries to launch customer Emirates in 2021.

The 777-9 is bigger than the A350-1000 and has more firm orders – 267 versus 176, according to Cirium fleets data. Boeing seems to has bragging rights over Airbus in this sector, but the reality is that demand for both big twins has so far been disappointing.

Bert van Leeuwen, head of aviation research at financial services and banking institution Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, concurs: “The large twin-aisle market is pretty tough at the moment, probably because smaller twin-aisles offer more flexibility, cause maybe less yield erosion and no longer seem to have a significant disadvantage in terms of seat-mile cost,”

“It seems the downscaling trend is continuing now to the single-aisle market with the hugely popular A321-200NX [A321neo ACF/LR] and NY [A321XLR]. Eventually, there will be a need for very large aircraft like the 777-9X, but – as the 747-8I and A380 have proven – this market size is limited.”

(In Feb 2020) Today’s benchmark in the big-twin sector is the 777-300ER, which has sold almost 840 aircraft since its introduction in 2004.

Rob Morris, who is global head of consultancy at Ascend, points out that only 7 of the 43 airlines operating the 827 777-300ERs in service today have so far ordered the 777-9. In addition, these seven customers operate 40% of the installed 777-300ER base today. Not all of these have ordered as many 777-9s as they have 777-300ERs.

However, a recent Fleet Forecast, completed in 2019 summer time, predicts delivery of 777-9s will be over 900 by 2038, in less than two decades time.


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