Singapore Airlines Boosts Boeing 777-9 Order

Filed Under: Singapore

Last week we learned that Boeing has potentially lost over a third of its 777X orders, so here’s at least some good news for the program… kind of.

Singapore Airlines swaps 787-10s for 777-9s

It has been announced that Singapore Airlines has reached agreements with Airbus and Boeing over aircraft deferrals. In the case of Boeing, this involves an order swap:

  • Singapore Airlines is swapping 14 Boeing 787-10s for 11 Boeing 777-9s
  • With this update, Singapore Airlines now has plans to have a total of 30 Boeing 787-10s (down from 44) and 31 Boeing 777-9s (up from 20)

Deliveries of these additional 11 Boeing 777-9s are planned for beyond FY25/26.

For context, Singapore Airlines uses the 787-10 as a regional aircraft, primarily operating flights within Asia. Meanwhile Singapore Airlines plans to use the 777-9 as a new flagship, long haul aircraft.

The Singapore Airlines Boeing 787-10

Is Singapore Airlines deferring its 777-9 order?

Going back a couple of years, the plan was for Singapore Airlines to get its first 777-9 in 2021. Of course a lot has changed since then, and we’ve even seen the 777X program delayed altogether.

Most recently, Boeing announced that deliveries of the Boeing 777X would start in late 2023 at the earliest, representing a delay of a further two years. With this update, odds are that Singapore Airlines’ 777X deliveries wouldn’t have started until 2024, best case scenario, given that the airline isn’t a launch customer for the plane.

The Boeing 777X program has been delayed altogether

While it’s not explicitly stated one way or another, one has to wonder if at this point we may see Singapore Airlines 777-9 orders deferred entirely:

  • I can’t imagine Singapore Airlines actually has a use for these 777-9s in the next few years, as the planes will primarily be replacing A380s
  • The additional 11 777-9s will be delivered in mid-2026 at the earliest, though we don’t know when the first 20 will be delivered
  • A lot of these order swap deals involve deferrals, especially in situations where an airline increases an order of a plane that’s not selling well

For what it’s worth, here’s Singapore Airlines’ chart with expected capital expenditures:

It’s hard to tell based on that which planes will be delivered in which year, as the airline has a lot more planes on order.

Why Singapore Airlines’ 777-9 order boost is exciting

Singapore Airlines’ increased 777-9 order is exciting:

  • The 777-9 will eventually become Singapore Airlines’ new flagship aircraft, as the airline will likely retire A380s in about a decade
  • Singapore Airlines will introduce an all new first class product on the 777-9, so it should feature an improved product compared to existing 777s
  • Interestingly Singapore Airlines’ current fleet consists of 31 777-300s, so eventually the airline will have the same number of 777-9s; however, over time I would consider the 777-9 to be more of an A380 replacement than a 777 replacement

Expect the Boeing 777-9 to eventually replace the Airbus A380

Bottom line

Singapore Airlines has increased its 777-9 order by 11 planes (to 31), and in the process has reduced its 787-10 order by 14 planes (to 30).

I’d say this development is good news for both Boeing and consumers. Boeing has been having a hard time selling the 777-9, so this order boost is positive. For consumers, the 777-9 will be a long haul aircraft featuring a new onboard product, so that’s exciting.

Here’s to hoping that Singapore Airlines’ first 777-9 is delivered in 2024, and not significantly later than that.

What do you make of Singapore Airlines’ 777-9 order swap?

Comments
  1. Hey Ben, I think you misread the column about expenditure on aircraft vs other assets.

    It’s $2.8bn in FY20/21, $3.7bn in FY21/22, $4.1bn in FY22/23, $3.8bn in FY23/24, and $4bn in FY24/25, so it’s likely though not confirmed that there may be some deliveries of the 779 in 2023 or 2024.

  2. @ Philly380 — Correct, it doesn’t (at least without modifications or payload restrictions), but that’s also why the airline has A350-900ULRs.

  3. Good move. The use of a380s will be rapidly declining moving forward. 777-9 will be more efficient. The 777-9 will be the final commercial wide body ever produced.

  4. @Philly380 The standard A350 doesn’t have that range either. SIA had to make seven of their A350s less dense than normal and ask Airbus to install extra fuel tanks for the A350 to be able to fly from Singapore to New York, but SIA also has a lot of standard A350s and those cannot fly from Singapore to New York.

  5. The A330-800, the A350-900, and the A350-1000 all beat the 777-9 in range. They all have ranges of greater than 8000nm while the 777-9 has a range of 7300nm. That is significant.

  6. I still don’t quite get why an airline would order both A350-900 and B787-10 but no other variants (sans A350-900ULR) of either model. Wouldn’t the extra costs in terms of training, maintenance, etc from flying 2 completely different models from 2 manufacturers far outweigh whatever benefits you may get?

  7. @Joe 777-9 is for the capacity while 777-8 is for range. In terms of MTOW, you are talking about anywhere from 10% (as compared to A35J) to 40% (A358) extra capacity. That is also significant.

  8. @Milo – Especially as the A350 is so much nicer to fly than the 787. SIA has managed to produce a coffin like flat bed in business on their regional 787’s which is horrible. Not that I find that regular business class seats amazing for that matter, although they’re at least quite roomy, with the exception of leg room when you sleep.

  9. In my P.O.V, with the full incorporation of Silk Air, Singapore will have a LOT more flexibility with its regional fleets, and therefore will need less 787-10s. Since SQ might have already been planning to order more 777xs to replace a380s when the time comes, the most logical decision is this one.
    Of course any increase in 777x orders is good news but this does not indicate a change in the plane’s fate.

  10. I can’t recall if Singapore ever put a shower in their A380s but I’d love to see this feature maintained on their aircraft, as wildly unprofitable as it is…

  11. Fantastic news for those of us who love comfortable large with spacious cabins, although I also expect the retirement of the a380s to be sped up at yet another flag carrier.
    I am a big fan of Airbus, but unlike the a380 and also superior to the smaller Airbus wide bodies, the 777x is as the 747 was a great mixed freight and passenger carrier. With freight an increasingly important part of airline services.

  12. @Dave … Singapore Airlines used the standard A350-900 non-ULR with long haul configuration when they started SIN-JFK-SIN flights under SQ24 (JFK-SIN) and SQ23 (SIN-JFK) on November 16, 2020. They previously used that aircraft since the passenger numbers were still very low but they need the bigger cargo capacity (non ULR has bigger cargo than ULR). Because the overall load was still way below standard, the aircraft can fly the distance. You can see the article here: https://www.businessinsider.com/inside-the-new-worlds-longest-flight-singapore-airlines-a350-tour-2020-11. Now they switched to the ULR types probably because of two reasons – one, they need more A350-900s (non-ULR) for other routes since they increased the frequency, and two, they are hoping when the passenger numbers are going up the aircraft can fly the distance (less cargo on ULR).

    @NickTampieri … I was thinking the same thing as well. Now that SQ has narrow body, they don’t need as many Boeing 787-10 for their regional destinations anymore.

  13. The 777X is misread by a lot of people. The 777X is not supposed to be the longer, better 77W. The 77W is designed to do 13 or more hours flights. The 777-9 will be used to do shorter flights, like SIN BKK, DEL BOM, CGK, SGN, MNL, TPE, HKG, PVG, ICN, NKG, TAO, SHE, TSN, HND etc places which the A380 has been flying, or very high density planes are flying.

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