Boeing is about to launch the 777X freighter, which is expected to take place during the Dubai Airshow, set to start on Nov. 14, sources at Bloomberg said.
The cargo variant of the world’s largest twin-engine jet is a response to Airbus’ onslaught on a future A350 freighter. The American planemaker may even announce the ‘777XF’ with a large order from Qatar Airways, an airline that has already expressed interest in the aircraft on several occasions.
According to Bloomberg, Boeing is also discussing potential orders with FedEx, DHL, Lufthansa, Singapore, the last two customers of the passenger variant.
The cargo 777X should be an intermediate version between the 777-8 and the 777-9, according to people interviewed by the site. That means an extremely large aircraft and one that is sure to outperform the current 777F, which is based on the 777-200.
The launch of a freighter variant is also a strategy to attract more orders in a segment that is heavily affected by the pandemic. Widebodies have been hitting few deals lately because of the drop in demand for long-range flights.
With up to 426 seats, the 777X is an unrivaled aircraft on the market today, after the announced end of production of the Boeing 747-8 and Airbus A380.
The interest in the cargo market shown by Boeing and Airbus has to do with the growth in demand for deliveries and also the fact that from 2028 many aircraft used for cargo will no longer meet pollutant emission regulations.
The advantage of planes like the 777X and A350 lies in lower fuel consumption and superior range. These are good arguments, but they also need to prove valid on the question of price.
While the two airframers are considering launching the new aircraft, several passenger-to-cargo aircraft conversion programs are currently underway, including for 777-300ER jets.
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