With passenger demand low and resources scarce, Cathay Pacific and Lufthansa are reportedly in talks with Boeing to defer or cancel 777-9 (777X) deliveries.
Cathay Pacific Wants To Cancel 777-9 Order
Cathay Pacific ordered 21 777-9 aircraft, set to be delivered between 2021-2024. This 777 variant is larger and more fuel efficient than the current 777-300ER that make up the backbone of the Cathay Pacific longhaul fleet.
But fuel prices and demand are down. Way down, actually. Perhaps that is why Cathay Pacific recently extended the lease on more than a dozen of its 777-300ERs by 10 years and is in talk with another aircraft leasing company to extend the lease on another 10 airplanes.
Let’s connect the dots: you don’t extend the lease on more than 20 aircraft if you soon expect a new aircraft to replace them.
The Seattle Times reports, “Unofficially, Cathay is saying it won’t take the 777Xs.” That’s a shame, as the aircraft was slated to have a new first class product onboard.
> Read More: Cathay Pacific 777-300ER First Class Review
Lufthansa Wants To Convert 777-9 Passenger Order to Freight Version
Lufthansa, another launch customer of the 777-9, reportedly wants to convert its order for 777-9 passenger aircraft to cargo aircraft, the 777F. Aero.de reports that Lufthansa views cargo demand as far more resilient than passenger demand. Already, Lufthansa has (again) delayed the retirement of its MD-11 cargo fleet. They were supposed to be retired by the end of 2020 but will remain in service into 2021.
With passenger demand unlikely to recover for years, Lufthansa is exchanging early delivery slots from the passenger version to freight version. It is unclear whether Lufthansa still plans to take delivery on passenger variants later on, though I’d imagine that will be wholly dependent upon the scope and severity of the travel famine the world is currently mired in.
Speaking from a passenger perceptive, this move would be quite ironic. Lufthansa
purchased was awarded Skytrax 5-star status in 2017 on the basis of its new business class product on the 777-9, which was three years away at the time. Already, the 777-9 is delayed until at least 2021. If Lufthansa defers or cancels its 777-9 passenger orders, will it lose its Skytrax award…?
> Read More: Lufthansa Hits Rock Bottom
These pair of developments on the 777-9 underscore not only what a difficult time this is for airlines, but for aircraft manufacturers like Boeing. With potential longterm shutdowns of the 737MAX and 777-9 programs, tens of thousands of jobs may be lost.
My younger brother just got furloughed from Boeing. He’s a machinist and was working on the 777X. He’s saying there’s probably going to be a 10% reduction in staffing and he’s pretty low on the totem pole…not looking good, I was hoping the 777X would be more resilient to the current situation.
I’m sorry to hear that Steve. I hope that demand bounces back faster than we think.