Boeing intends to begin talks with Indian airlines shortly as it looks to win business for the 777X as a replacement for ageing widebodies.
Speaking to FlightGlobal at Aero India in Bengaluru, Boeing's senior vice-president for Asia-Pacific and India sales Dinesh Keskar said he expected the 777X to replace the 777s operated by Air India and Jet Airways – India's only two widebody operators
Cirium fleets data shows that Air India has 11 777-300ERs and three 777-200LRs, with an average of around 10 years. Jet, meanwhile, has 10 777-300ERs aged between 10 and 12 years.
Keskar acknowledges that both airlines are pursuing ownership changes, but he nonetheless expects them to have the financial resources to afford new widebodies.
He says the two 777 variants, the -8 and -9, offer different benefits to the Indian airlines.
"The -8 offers unprecedented range that can operate nonstop flights between Delhi and San Francisco or Mumbai to Newark and Chicago … and allows them to open more new routes. If they go with the -9, they can expect better economics with lower fuel burn and more seat capacity, which translates to lower seat-mile cost."
Keskar adds: "The 777X is the next big thing to happen after we have introduced the 737 Max and 787... We will be briefing [Jet and Air India] on the 777X."
Boeing is currently completing assembly of the first -9 derivative of the new GE Aviation GE9X-powered 777X family, with roll-out expected in mid-March. The first aircraft is scheduled for delivery to launch customer Emirates in 2020.