Etihad’s CEO Isn’t Clear On Boeing 777X Delivery Timeline

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Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Airways isn’t sure when it will take delivery of its first Boeing 777X aircraft. The airline’s CEO, Tony Douglas, exclusively revealed to Simple Flying that he doesn’t currently have a delivery window for the next generation jet, something which he described as “quite sad.”

Etihad Airways isn’t sure when it will take delivery of its first Boeing 777X. Photo: Boeing

Boeing is set to launch the 777X program as its latest offering in the widebody segment. The first aircraft was already due to be in the skies operating for Lufthansa by now. Unfortunately, the project has been delayed, with Boeing’s official entry to service date currently set at late 2023.

“An incredible aircraft”

Speaking exclusively to Simple Flying earlier today, Tony Douglas, CEO of the Etihad Group, confirmed that he’s not sure when the first Boeing 777X will be delivered. He added that this is sad, as the aircraft is a great proposition, commenting,

“[The Boeing 777X is] an incredible aircraft on paper. But as we all know the program hasn’t got into a delivery window at this stage. That’s frankly quite sad because [the aircraft] represents such a great proposition.”

Further adding to his comments, Douglas said,

“It’s well-chronicled how the program has been delayed. Put quite simply, at this point in time I don’t know when deliveries of that aircraft are going to be confirmed.”

Etihad’s Boeing 777X order

According to Boeing’s latest order books, the manufacturer has 320 current orders for the Boeing 777X. Unlike its neighbor Emirates, which has a massive order for 115 aircraft, Etihad’s order is slightly more modest for just 25 aircraft, accounting for around eight percent of total orders.

The initial Etihad Boeing 777X order was placed in November 2013 at the Dubai Air Show. The order was divided between 17 of the larger Boeing 777-9 and eight of the smaller 777-8 model. Additionally, the airline announced purchase rights for 12 additional jets.

When will the first Boeing 777X be delivered?

At the time of Etihad’s initial order, Boeing revealed it hoped the aircraft would enter service by the end of the 2010s decade. Sadly, as is evident with a lack of deliveries, this hasn’t been the case. According to Boeing’s official latest stance, the manufacturer hopes to deliver its first aircraft in late 2023.

Etihad’s neighbor, Emirates, had previously warned that the aircraft could be further delayed. In another Simple Flying webinar back in April, Emirates’ president, Tim Clark, suggested that the first delivery could be pushed back as far as 2025. At the time, a Boeing spokesperson told Simple Flying,

“We’re working closely with global regulators on all aspects of 777X development, including our rigorous test program. Our team remains focused on executing this comprehensive series of tests and conditions to demonstrate the safety and reliability of the airplane’s design. It is diligent, deliberate work and we are pleased with the progress to date. We also are providing regular updates to our launch customers.”

Another Middle Eastern giant is a little more positive. Speaking during the second Simple Flying webinar, Qatar Airways Group CEO, Akbar Al Baker, told us he saw his 777X deliveries coming as soon as 2022. Meanwhile, expected launch customer Lufthansa isn’t too troubled by the aircraft’s delay.

Simple Flying has contacted Boeing for a comment regarding this story.

When do you think the first Boeing 777X will be delivered to Etihad Airways? Let us know what you think and why in the comments!