14 jets only options: Lufthansa is pulling back with the Boeing 777X

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The date for the first delivery of the Boeing 777-9 had recently been postponed several times for Lufthansa. Now, the airline is converting part of its order into options.

In autumn 2013, Boeing and Lufthansa announced that the German airline had ordered 34 copies of the Boeing 777-9, making it one of the first customers of the model. However, the US aircraft manufacturer was able to record only 20 of the 34 aircraft firmly in the order book, because until recently, the order confirmation from the Lufthansa Supervisory Board was still missing for the other 14 jets. Now the airline takes another step backwards.

"In the third quarter of 2019, as part of new aircraft orders, the 14 B777 orders were contractually converted into options for which it is no longer sufficiently certain whether they will be exercised in the future," writes Lufthansa in its interim financial report for the first three Quarters 2019. As the 14 aircraft were never confirmed, one can not speak of a classic cancellation. However, Lufthansa's transformation into options is bad news for the model, which was not doing well anyway.

Deliveries postponed to 2021

The first flight of the 777X, which is said to be 777-9 and smaller 777-8, moved further and further back. First there were problems with the new giant engine GE9X. A component on the front of the compressor showed signs of premature wear and had to be reworked. In September there was another setback. In a static test in which a prototype was deliberately loaded above the permitted limit, a cargo door was pushed out of the fuselage.

According to Boeing's latest figures, the first flight is scheduled for early 2020 and first shipments early in 2021. Emirates would have been the first airline to take the first 777X in June 2020. Lufthansa had also expected to receive its first Boeing 777-9 in the summer of 2020. This date was first postponed to the end of 2020. In the meantime Lufthansa will at least be ready at the beginning of 2021 at the earliest.

Boss of leasing company skeptical

"The first Boeing 777-9 we plan to use in Frankfurt," said Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr in March. They are to replace the four-bladed Boeing 747-400 there. In addition, the airline will introduce its new Business Class with the new model. "Lufthansa has revealed one of its best-kept secrets and demonstrated the concept of the brand new Business Class," she said in 2017. "It will go into regular service with the delivery of the Boeing 777-9 from 2020," was the plan at the time.

In a recent interview with aeroTELEGRAPH, the head of leasing company Air Lease Corporation, John Plueger, was also skeptical of the 777X. "We have some concerns about the engine and the final certification of the aircraft," says Plueger. But the interest of the airline customers on the plane seems to be manageable. You have not ordered any 777X yet, said Plueger. "We would need a larger number of airline customers who chose the 777X."

Lufthansa gets 787-9 and more A350

Lufthansa had announced in March the order for more long-haul flyers. 20 Boeing 787-9 and 20 other Airbus A350-900s would replace four-engine aircraft in long-haul fleets of the Lufthansa Group, it was said. These new aircraft will be delivered from the end of 2022 to 2027.

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