MIAMI — International Airlines Group (IAG) has confirmed an order for 18 Boeing 777-9Xs with an additional 24 options for UK flag-carrier British Airways (BA).

The airline intends to use these aircraft to replace its aging fleet of 34 Boeing 747-400s, which are slated for retirement in February 2024.

British Airways is currently one of the largest operators of the 777 with 58 aircraft in its fleet. The airline operates three 777-200s, 43 777-200ERs, and 12 777-300ERs.

PHOTO: Kenneth Iwelumo

The carrier also committed to four additional 777-300ERs last year.

“The new 777-9 is the world’s most fuel-efficient long-haul aircraft and will bring many benefits to British Airways’ fleet. It’s the ideal replacement for the 747 and its size and range will be an excellent fit for the airline’s existing network,” said Willie Walsh, IAG’s CEO.

Walsh added that the 777-9X will provide further cost efficiencies and environmental benefits, “with fuel cost per seat improvements of 30% compared to the 747. It also provides an enhanced passenger experience.”

The aircraft will inherently replace BA’s 747-400 fleet and come with numerous capacity changes.

The new 777-9s will come equipped with 325 seats in four cabins, whereas the airline’s 747s are equipped with 275-345 seats, depending on its premium versus economy class mixture.

The new planes have a slightly smaller cabin floor area than what the 747-400 has to offer. The Triple-Sevens will come with only eight First Class seats, as opposed to the 14 currently available on the 747s.

BOAC 747 Taken: 18th February 2019 Picture by: Stuart Bailey

It is understood that these planes will likely be deployed on BA’s flagship routes, with New York and Los Angeles taking the first spots.

British Airways will also take advantage of the type rating similarities between its current 787 and 777 fleet, which will see a. large number of 747-rated pilots move to the twin-engine wide-bodies.

Kevin McAllister, President & CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes noted during the announcement that his team is “honored that British Airways has selected the 777X as part of its fleet for its next century. Together with the 787 Dreamliner, we are excited for the 777X to help British Airways build on its incredible legacy.”

McAllister also commented that the 777-9X “simply has no competitor in its class when it comes to efficiency and performance.”

“It is the right-sized plane for British Airways to efficiently serve long-range routes with heavy passenger demand,” he said.

This new order comes in a timely manner as the first Boeing 777-9x is set to roll out Boeing’s Seattle factory on March 13, 2019, at a histgoric event that will be covered by Airways.

The newest version of the most popular wide-body aircraft ever built has inherited some technologies from Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner family and will become the largest twin-engine widebody built.

Additionally, the new 777X features bigger windows, improved cabin lighting, as well as a wider and quieter interior.

It can seat betweeb 400 and 425 passengers, depending on the airline’s configuration and fly further, with a range of 7,600nm (14,075km).

This size of aircraft needs a massive engine to power. General Electric has provided the answer with its new GE9X—also the largest Jet Engine built to date with a powerful 105,000LB of thrust. An entire 737 fuselage can fit within the engine’s diameter and there would still be some space left.

Boeing plans to deliver the first Boeing 777X to launch customer Lufthansa in 2020. This newest order brings the program’s order to 358, split between 8 different airlines.

Overall, these are tremendous news for both British Airways and Boeing. Today, the airline unveiled the order as it reported an adjusted operating profit of €3.23 billion ($3.7 billion) in 2018, and a revenue increase of 6.7% of €24.4 billion.