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British Airways orders 18 Boeing 777-9 aircraft – with First Class – to replace the 747 fleet

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IAG, the parent company of British Airways, has announced a huge order for Boeing 777-9 aircraft as part of the 2018 financial results presentation on Thursday.

There is a firm order for 18 aircraft with options on an additional 24.  An image from Boeing is below.  The aircraft will have GE9X engines from General Electric – this is the only option available as Boeing has chosen to only work with one engine manufacturer.

The list price for these aircraft is $442m each although BA will have secured a substantial discount.

BA’s confirmed 18 aircraft will replace 14 Boeing 747-400 and four Boeing 777-200 as they are delivered between 2022 and 2025.

The aircraft will have 325 seats across four cabins.  This means that First Class will definitely survive but as a smaller cabin:

  • 8 First
  • 65 Club World
  • 46 World Traveller Plus
  • 206 World Traveller

The existing order book contains 12 787s, four 777-300ERs and 18 A350s.  British Airways is now done for the medium term, and I think we can forget any talk of additional A380 investment.  

Willie Walsh, IAG chief executive, said:

“The new B777-9 is the world’s most fuel efficient longhaul aircraft and will bring many benefits to British Airways’ fleet. It’s the ideal replacement for the Boeing 747 and its size and range will be an excellent fit for the airline’s existing network.  This aircraft will provide further cost efficiencies and environmental benefits with fuel cost per seat improvements of 30 per cent compared to the Boeing 747. It also provides an enhanced passenger experience”.

No-one has yet flown on a Boeing 777-9.  The aircraft was launched in 2013 and over 300 have now been ordered, but there have been no deliveries and we haven’t even had a test flight yet.  Emirates is due to receive the first in 2020.

It is the longest aircraft that Boeing has ever manufactured and has a range of 14,000km.  The windows are noticeably larger than on the existing 777 fleet and the ‘cabin altitude’ figure, which is linked to cabin comfort, is meant to be similar to the A350 and Boeing 787.  One novelty is folding wingtips.

One key point to note is that the aircraft is 10cm wider than the current 777 variants due to new developments in designing internal walls and insulation.  This allows the aircraft to have 10-abreast seating in Economy by default, albeit BA is refitting its existing 777 fleet to 10-across so this should allow slightly more space.

British Airways Boeing 777-9

IAG’s 2018 financial results

Looking at IAG’s financial performance, the numbers are undoubtedly good.  This is despite increased fuel costs and adverse FX movements.  Operating profit was €3.2bn on revenue of €24.4bn, of which the majority (£1.95bn) was from British Airways.  Iberia, Aer Lingus and Vueling contribute roughly similar amounts of profit in the €200m-€400m range.

BA posted an operating profit margin of 15.1% in Q4 2018.  No other brand comes close – Iberia is in 2nd place but could only manage 7.1%.

It is worth noting that BA posted an exceptional €678m gain due to cutting pension benefits in two schemes, although this is not included in the numbers above.

Across the entire group, passenger revenue per seat unit increased 2.4% at constant currency.  Costs, excluding fuel, fell by 0.8%.  Capacity – ie the number of seats available for sale – grew by 6%.  Net debt, including capitalised leases, remains low given the profitability.  Load factor (ie seats sold) increased from 82.6% to 83.3%.  There are now 573 aircraft in use across IAG.

Intriguingly, BA continues to state that there has not been a single case of fraud linked to the 2018 data breach.  It intends to defend the various ongoing lawsuits but in any event believes that it is covered by insurance for any claims.

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Comments (110)

  • Peter K says:

    I’m surprised Julian hasn’t complained that BA is churning planes and that they should have got one type of plane and stuck with it 😂

    • the_real_a says:

      On a serious note, i`ve always wondered how they make such a “pick and mix” fleet economical. They pretty much fly every aircraft built. Surely an opportunity to standardise around an IAG short haul and long haul “plane” including seats and interiors?

      • Peter K says:

        It’s clear from comments on here that different folk prefer different planes. I suppose this way they cater for this and are not so affected if one type goes wrong (like with the 787).

      • Rob says:

        There is a critical mass needed per type but once you got that it does not seem to matter. Also insured you against any cases of model-(wife)wide groundings.

  • Joe says:

    There’s a thread on FlyerTalk BA currently speculating the only way to get seat in the new First Cabin will be to buy a ticket. I bloody well hope not.

    • Martin says:

      Paying money for flights? That will never catch on.

      • Joe says:

        I’d wager the vast majority of this site won’t be paying £10k for a return F trip to Mexico or further.

        Hopefully their new CW offering is a big leap forward, as Squirrel said.

    • The Savage Squirrel says:

      If the new CW seat is a big leap forward vs existing offering ( comparable with or even better than current F), might demand for F fall?

      • Doug M says:

        We don’t know, we suspect it will be. First being revamped also. Speculation it’s moving up market a notch, certainly fewer seats, and that redemption offers will reduce.

        • Arran says:

          Air France do it so I wouldn’t be surprised. I remember it being said before a couple of years ago by Willie or Cruz that F had quite a number of people on upgrades or redemption. It may be in the future it’s cash or redemption’s only by Gold or Silver card holder, with the number of reward seats being restricted a fair bit. With the new J class, I can’t see it being a massive problem.

  • Rob says:

    So does this rule out BA picking up second hand A380s? What do you think, Rob?

    • Doug M says:

      From the article.

      “British Airways is now done for the medium term, and I think we can forget any talk of additional A380 investment. “

      • Rob says:

        apologies, skimming on a phone…..v disappointing – the A380 is in a class of its own – though I haven’t yet been on an A350….

        • Doug M says:

          Depends on what you want. A350 quietest, B787 and A350 best air quality least lag. 747 upstairs still my favourite by a distance.

    • Arran says:

      Can’t see it happening now. If the extras do come it will be second hand.

    • At yesterday’s announcement Willie Walsh said “BA will not be buying any secondhand aircraft”. It’s unlikely BA will be able to place an order for new A380s at a fantastic price (Airbus have not budged on pricing), meaning we won’t see an increase in the number of A380s BA has in its fleet.

  • denvar says:

    “Unrivalled customer propositions” on the first slide of the deck – surely that’s got to be a joke?

    • Jamie says:

      Better than ‘show me the f***** money’. Since I saw that BA haven’t got a penny of my cash and I’ve shifted my 10k spend to Star. I hope the bearded one pulls BA down a notch or two. Or even better – the competition authorities.

  • Scottydogg says:

    OT
    Has E rewards stopped now ?
    Havent been able to log in for a while now , but seem to keep getting their emails

    • Nick_C says:

      Still works, although
      1) points for a failed survey now mainly 0
      2) If your only redemption partner is BAEC, the maximum redemption has dropped from 2000 Avios a month to 1000
      3) If you have a wide range of redemption partners (from originally signing up through Hilton for example), the redemptions have not changed

    • Peter K says:

      Still works for me but since the changes I’m now working through my 5 accounts to get them to a redeemable level then cashing out for the last time. It’s no longer worth it for me.

      • For me and lots of others erewards have had a drought on the amount of surveys available over the last couple of months. I’ve just cashed out on two accounts a lower amount of HH points than usual, that’s how bad its got.

  • marcw says:

    OT: does anyone know whether Amex Travel charges appears quick in the Amex account?

  • DavidK says:

    Well I am very pleased that F has survived as I honestly though it was coming to an end I am concerned about how tough it will be to find a redemption in a cabin of 8 seats! On a separate note, the BA wine effort is poor. I console myself with the LP GS, long may it stay.

  • marcw says:

    Today I confirmed my hypothesis: Hilton Honors is useless… unless you want Conrad/Waldorf in expensive places. Just planned my road trip, and IHG is the way forward, really.

    • Mr(s) Entitled says:

      Assume you havent planned your road trip down route 66 then. No hotel group offers global coverage. Horses for courses.