Abu Dhabi's Etihad may start flood of new orders for Boeing widebodies

Staff writerOctober 21, 2013 

An $18 billion-order for Boeing's yet-to-be-launched 777X and for the company's mid-sized Dreamliner from Abu Dhabi's Etihad Airways could launch a flood of new orders from Middle East airlines for Boeing and Airbus jets.

Aviation sources say Etihad could order 30 to 40 of the uprated 777Xs and 25 to 30 787 Dreamliners soon to expand its global network.

The order could prompt orders from other Middle Eastern airlines including rival Emirates, which could order as many as 70 777Xs to replace its existing fleet of Boeing 777s. Emirates is the largest single operator of 777s and Airbus's superjumbo A380.

Boeing has yet to formally launch the 777X, but the company is widely expected to give its formal approval of the plane at the Dubai Air Show in mid-November.

The Mideast's other major airline, Qatar Airways, has also shown interest in the 777X.

The 777X would incorporate advanced engines, improved aerodynamics and instrumentation to improve the efficiency and reliability of what is already one of the world's most efficient planes.

Boeing also plans to stretch the 777 to carry up to more than 400 passengers, putting it in the market to replace many of the 747s now flying.

The 777X would be somewhat larger than Airbus's new A350-1000 XWB, an all-new composite-bodied aircraft.

The body of the 777X would remain largely aluminum.

Other Mideast airlines including Saudia and Kuwait Airlines are expected to enter new orders at the air show.

Germany's Lufthansa has already ordered 777Xs to augment its long-haul fleet.

The 777X is expected to roll out for commercial service late in this decade, Boeing says.

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