Airlines prepare to keep older jets in fleet in case new 777X is late

SEOUL—Airlines are increasingly anxious that Boeing Co.’s BA -1.24% 777X long-haul jet will be delivered late—another potential setback for the embattled plane maker.

Emirates Airline, the largest customer for the 777X, and Deutsche Lufthansa AG DLAKY 0.59% , the biggest customer in Europe, are drawing up contingency plans in case the plane doesn’t arrive on the promised schedules, airline representatives said.

Tim Clark, president of Emirates Airline—with orders for 150 of the planes and options to purchase 50 more—said the carrier may have to keep older model 777-300ERs in its fleet longer if the replacement aircraft isn’t ready. The first 777X test plane originally was due to fly in 2018. It has yet to take off.

Mr. Clark said the first flight is now planned for June 26. The delay could make it challenging for Boeing to meet the June 2020 delivery commitment of the first plane to Emirates Airline, he said.

A Lufthansa official said the German carrier is preparing to keep some of its older 747-400 jumbo jets that were due to be retired in its fleet longer if the 777X schedule slips. Using older, less fuel-efficient planes would add to the costs for carriers, which Boeing may have to cover under industry standard contract terms.

Excerpt from WSJ
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