55 of Boeing's next-generation jets will join Etihad Airways' international fleet, from the high-capacity Boeing 787-10 Dreamliner to the forthcoming Boeing 777X family, in a staggering order with a list price of some US$25.2 billion.
The gulf carrier is the first airline to sign up for the Boeing 777-8X, inking a deal to take eight of the -8X planes starting from 2022 plus 17 of the larger 777-9X from 2020.
The 777X family represents a leap ahead for Boeing's 777 and incorporates some of the design and technology from the 787 Dreamliner including composite carbon-fibre wings.
The Boeing 777-9X is a stretched and more fuel-efficient version of Boeing's largest current aircraft, the 777-300ER, capable of flying the same distance but with up to 40 more passengers – Boeing lists the typical configuration as carrying 400 passengers – while delivering reduced fuel consumption and lower operating costs.
The Boeing 777-8X is a smaller version of the -9X but with greater range.
Other 777X sign-ups include launch customer Lufthansa with 34 airplanes, Qatar Airways with 50 and Emirates with a massive 150 on the order book.
Boeing 787-10, too
Also on Etihad's shopping list: 30 of the super-stretched Boeing 787-10 Dreamliner, which has already attracted orders from launch customer Singapore Airlines along with BA and United Airlines. Etihad expects to get its first 787-10 in 2018.
The 787-10 is the largest version of the Dreamliner family, "typically carrying more than 320 passengers" Etihad says. That compares to to a minimum of 210 seats on the original 787-8 and 250-290 for the longer 787-9, although the -10's added length is more about maximizing carrying capacity for passengers and cargo rather than extending its flight range.
"This is a significant, timely and essential order for us, as we celebrate our tenth anniversary and plan for our next decade and beyond" said Etihad Airways President and CEO James Hogan.
"In just 10 years, we have grown from a start-up carrier to a global airline. This order enables us to build upon our achievements, using the next generation of aircraft to support our next generation of development."
That's not too shabby for an airline for an airline which Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce slapped this year, saying a proposed Qantas alliance with Etihad instead of Emirates as "being offered a bike before a BMW".
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