Etihad Orders Boeing Wide-Body Jets as Hogan Builds Fleet

Etihad Airways, the smallest of the three major Middle Eastern carriers, said it ordered Boeing Co. wide-body aircraft valued at $25.2 billion to build a more fuel-efficient long-distance fleet as it network expands.

The Abu Dhabi-based carrier ordered 25 777X models, including 17 777-9Xs and eight 777-8Xs, the companies said today at the Dubai Air Show. Etihad also ordered 30 787-10s, the largest Dreamliner, to become the largest airline customer for the aircraft, with a total of 71 on order, it said.

“Boeing has been a long-term strategic partner for Etihad throughout that journey, playing an integral role in our growth,” said Etihad Chief Executive Officer James Hogan. “I am delighted we are extending our relationship.”

The Persian Gulf carrier’s announcement kicks off this year’s aviation exhibition, which will be dominated by large wide-body aircraft that form the backbone of the Middle Eastern fleets. Emirates is set to make the biggest order announcement at the show today, which takes place every other year in Dubai.

Etihad competes with regional rivals Emirates and Qatar Airways, who are benefiting from new airports in the desert to accommodate the global traffic they funnel through their hubs. Etihad differs in its strategy from the two other airlines as it grows through codeshares and equity partnerships, the latest of which was a deal to purchase 24 percent of India’s Jet Airways. Other holdings include a stake in Air Berlin Plc.

Today’s announcement includes options and purchase rights for 12 additional 777X airplanes as well another 12 787-10s. Etihad’s order also includes one 777 freighter with options for two more. Customers typically buy aircraft at a discount to list prices.

Boeing said the Etihad deal pushes the total order book for its Dreamliner beyond 1,000, making it the fastest-selling wide-body jet in aviation history.