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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.

British Airways Boeing 777-9

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.

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)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • Hugh says:

    OT: just had an email from Shell heralding the launch of “our exciting new rewards programme that’s really going to shake things up”

    It is not clear from the mail but there is no mention of Avios so I wonder if this collection route is closing?

  • Taylor says:

    OT: Forgive me for asking something simple, but I have triggered my 241 for the first time.

    How long does it take to appear in your BAEC account after triggering? And where does it appear?

    And how do you use it for an online booking – is there an option to use it on payment screen?

    • Anna says:

      It should appear within (at most) a few days, it will show on the “My Executive Club” page of your account. There is a box to click on if you want to use it to make a booking, if you don’t want to use it just leave it unclicked. Enjoy!

  • Derek says:

    How can IAG publish that the list price is $442m yet Boeing’s site states $382m?
    It can’t be down to the cost of the engines, as that’s like ordering a Mazda at £30,000 to then be told it’s an extra £3k for the engine…. when there’s only one engine type available???

    • Shoestring says:

      You possibly need to check your facts twice or thrice before posting.

      Here’s an interesting bit:
      [The 777X made the news last week when the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration certified the folding wingtips Boeing included in the plane’s design. The 777X carbon-fiber wing is longer than that on most aircraft, which adds to its ability to fly higher, faster and more economically.
      The plane’s full wingspan, however, was too large to fit into the gate space at many airports. The folding wingtips reduce the 777X’s full wingspan from 235 feet to 212 feet. The enormous wingspan of the Airbus A380 forced airports that wanted to accommodate the superjumbo jet to build new or remodel existing gate space. That’s not cheap and there were not a lot of takers.
      The folding wingtips on the 777X, while unique on a passenger jet, are not that difficult an engineering problem. Military jets designed for carrier service have long used folding wings.]

  • Simon says:

    My Amex was hacked…most likely down to BA as I only use it for Amazon, Tesco and the Tube….

    Had some dodgy transactions on Uber but it didn’t go through. Amex called and sent me a new card.

    Someone must have lost money due to it but proving it definitely was down to them is impossible.

  • meta says:

    O/T Just saw on my Miles&More changing award chart as of 9 May. It seems all awards are increasing. However, there are new early bird awards for economy (65% off) departing Lufthansa, Austrian and Swiss hubs if booked 90 days or more before. I’m glad I emptied my M&M account a few weeks ago.

    • Rob says:

      Probablem with early bird is that you need to start in FRA, ZRH, VIE, MUC. Connections are not included so fairly useless for UK residents.

    • Marcw says:

      Redeeming MM in economy (Lufthansa Group) is pointless/stupid.

  • Phillip says:

    At its most ambitious, Heathrow may have an operational third runway by 2026 (call it + a few years for contingency) and new terminals a couple of years after. Is it coincidence that the current purchases sees BA through to then? Might they now be planning on an expansion from thereon?

    • Mark says:

      I doubt it factors significantly in BA’s decision making.

      If and when the 3rd runway appears it’s unlikely BA will benefit greatly in terms of slots anyway.

      The current orders are largely needed to replace the remaining 747s, with a bit of growth. Slots for the latter will largely come from trimiming back shorthaul and/or moving additional aircraft to Gatwick.

      There’s still decisions to be made on replacements for most of the 777-200 fleet, plus of course they can always order more aircraft anyway

  • David J says:

    Hi – long time lurker. Where does BA state that there hasn’t been a single case of fraud as a result of the data breach?

    I’m almost certain – from personal experience – that that isn’t the case, given that over 2k disappeared from my account in a matter of minutes in late October 2018. Ironically, I was stood in T5 at the time…

  • Nigel the Pensioner says:

    Isnt it telling that the last words to come out of Walsh’s mouth when describing the 777-9 (not X) order is “enhanced passenger experience”! He proves yet again that passenger comforts and experience are at the bottom of his priorities after cost cutting, cost cutting, cost cutting. Of course, Cruz doesn’t get a say; he just has to run what Walsh gives him and take the flack. Do we stand by for another underwhelming yesteryear product or will they have learnt from their A380 fit out?
    There will also be a load of second hand A380’s on the market from Qatar in about 4 or 5 years – watch Walsh snap them up!! At least the cabins will be superb!

    • guesswho2000 says:

      “There will also be a load of second hand A380’s on the market from Qatar in about 4 or 5 years – watch Walsh snap them up!! At least the cabins will be superb!”

      Then BA can rip them out and make J 8-across…

    • Mark says:

      To be fair it was a financial results presentation…

      As for BA snapping up all the 2nd hand A380s as Calder was suggesting, I wouldn’t hold your breath on that one. Qatar may well be keen to use it’s influence to offload them as a significant shareholder but they have different engines to the BA fleet and BA will presumably be looking towards a long term strategy that has to account for the fact that it will never be able to replace them with anything even close in size.

      OTOH, a supply of replacement parts from those aircraft might be attractive to help keep the BA fleet going for the next 25 years.

    • Simon says:

      In a presentation the first and last items are what are most remembered by the audience. So the opposite is actually true.

      But don’t let get in the way of any anti BA bias!

    • Ben says:

      It’s at the stage they can’t win. If he’d said it first someone on here would be claiming the ‘cheek of him putting passenger comfort in front of the cost savings when we all know what he was in about’

      BA (and IAG) are a business. A very well run one by the looks of it, they’re not here solely for your transport pleasure.

      If you don’t like it, fly with someone else, all this endless bleating, esp around the minutiae of PR press statements has become very tedious

      • Shoestring says:

        It’s tedious because the BA haters can’t seem to use their brains and go somewhere else.

        Their hate isn’t wanted as it is illogical and emotional.

        Nobody sane sees constructive criticism as a bad or unwanted thing – it helps form continual improvement – but when things get so bad that you hate everything about a company, your constant badmouthing it just makes you look rather stupid, when you are badmouthing things as acceptable as company PR, plane livery, engines not living up to expectations in terms of performance, cost-cutting measures, new routes/ old routes changed, accent of the customer service staff etc

        Why can’t you bog off somewhere else if you hate that company so much?

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