Boeing’s 777 program has received a boost with Singapore Airlines (SIA) putting pen to paper for 20 777-9s to be delivered from 2021/22.
The airline group said on Friday it had signed a letter of intent for the 777-9, as well as 19 787-10s to be delivered from 2020/21.
The 787-10 order is on top of SIA’s existing order for 30 of the type.
SIA said the aircraft would be used for “additional growth and fleet modernisation”.
“Today’s major order for widebody aircraft enables us to continue operating a modern and fuel-efficient fleet, providing the SIA Group with additional expansion opportunities to ensure that we retain our industry-leading position,” SIA chief executive Goh Choon Phong said in a statement.
“We are continuing to invest for the future of the SIA Group. This order is also another demonstration of our commitment to further growing the Singapore hub, as we will be able to offer even more travel options for our customers.”
The order also included six options for each aircraft type.
SIA said the 777-9 were “intended primarily for long-haul routes”, while the 787-10 would be operated on “medium range routes”.
The General Electric GE9X is the sole engine type for the 777-9s. For the 787-10, which offers a choice of powerplants, SIA said it had selected the Rolls-Royce Trent 1000.
Boeing Commercial Airplanes president and chief executive Kevin McAllister said: “We appreciate the trust, commitment and endorsement of Singapore Airlines, and look forward to delivering market-leading capability to one of the world’s most widely respected industry leaders.”
SIA’s 777-9/787-10 order comes as the airline has received 10 of the 67 Airbus A350-900s it has due for delivery in the period ahead. The Star Alliance member was also expected to receive the first of five new Airbus A380s in 2017. The factory fresh A380s will replace older A380s in its 19-strong fleet of the double decker aircraft that are being returned to lessors.
The 777-9, which is still under development, was designed to seat 400-425 passengers and had a range of 7,600nm, according to the Boeing website. Production of the first 777-9, which featured a new composite wing, new engines and improved aerodynamics compared with current 777 models, was due to start later in 2017, with first delivery earmarked for 2020.
Orders of the latest 777 variant had dried up since the launch at the Dubai Airshow in 2013. The 777-9 and longer range but smaller capacity 777-8 had garnered 306 orders at the end of January 2017.
The 787-10 had 149 orders. The SIA orders have not been added to the totals for the two types.
On February 7, SIA reported net profit of S$177 million (A$162 million) for the three months to December 31 2016, down 35.6 per cent from the prior corresponding period.
Operating profit, which removes one-off charges and was regarded as the best indication of financial performance, was S$293 million (A$268 million), down 1.7 per cent from the prior year.
The company said market conditions were expected to remain tough in the year ahead.
“2017 is expected to be another challenging year amid tepid global economic conditions and geopolitical concerns, alongside other market headwinds such as overcapacity and aggressive pricing by competitors,” SIA said in its quarterly results.
“Loads and yields for both the passenger and cargo businesses are projected to remain under pressure.”