Qatar Airways‘ insistence on having a freighter variant of the 777X appears to have finally been heard by Boeing. Akbar Al Baker, the carrier’s CEO, told Reuters, the US airframer would have formalized an offer for the cargo widebody.
Details of Qatar’s possible order have not been disclosed, but it is estimated that it will involve at least 30 aircraft. Airbus also participates in the competition with a dedicated variant of the A350, an aircraft that is not sold for cargo yet.
Despite this, Boeing has not officially commented on a 777X freighter. David Calhoun, CEO of the company, said the version has not yet been approved by the Boeing’s board.
Largest twin-engine passenger jet in history, the 777X has experienced several delays in its development schedule. The aircraft was supposed to enter service in 2020, but Boeing has postponed this forecast to 2023.
Some customers like Emirates, however, consider receiving the first 777X only in 2024.
Although more efficient than older aircraft of similar size, including twin-engine jets, the 777X is hitting the market at a time when air travel is moving toward smaller-capacity planes better suited to today’s reality.
The 777-9 variant, the largest in the series, can carry up to 426 passengers in a two-class configuration.
Main photo: Boeing 777-9 test aircraft (LunchWithaLens)