I would argue that of the airliners introduced over the past 25 years, the 777 is probably by far the most influential airliner to become available. In the fashion of the “old” Boeing, it was made in a variety of styles to meet a variety of needs and just has kept on selling and selling throughout the years. Even today, Airbus doesn’t have the best competitor possible for this aircraft.
There are some people who’ve shunned this aircraft over the years and, in my opinion, paid the price for it. It was noticeable that Lufthansa, amid its order for a large batch of A320 aircraft, ordered (6) 777-300ER aircraft for its SWISS subsidiary. Lufthansa famously stuck with the Airbus A340 and 747 instead of incorporating the 777 into its fleet.
QANTAS has also studiously ignored the 777 despite market conditions changing so dramatically in favor of using the 777 that I now wonder if someone at Airbus has compromising photos of the entire Board of Directors for QANTAS. The 777 is an airliner that would have served QANTAS extremely well domestically, regionally and in long haul guise.
The 777 could have served the high frequency, relatively short haul routes between Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane as well as some routes across to Perth and New Zealand. The original 777-200 “domestic” co8uld have served all these routes in a very able manner.
The 777-300ER was the answer to needs on the Kangaroo route as well as to northern Asian destinations in China and Japan. Why an airline such as QANTAS would continue to use the 747-400 exclusively when it could have greatly benefited from the 777 is a bit baffling to me. While oil prices weren’t sky high until quite recently, the fuel cost argument for the 777 was really made successfully right from the beginning. Even when fuel was cheap(er) in the 1990s, those who bought the 777 knew they had made the right choice.
Now we hear that Boeing is about to give Authorization to Offer the next 777 series aircraft and this means, potentially, that the 777 may well have as long a history in commercial aviation as the 747 with far greater numbers sold. Any airline who ignores the very real capability of this airliner does so at its own peril. Long haul routes will be based more and more on frequency in most cases and more on “point to point” arguments going forward. With just a few exceptions, they will not be based upon the traditional hub-and-spoke model and certainly not based on trunk routes using the largest aircraft possible.
Yes, a few A380/747 routes will remain out there and that’s right and appropriate. But the world will belong to airlines who have the ability to fly routes such as Dallas-Sydney or Houston-Johannesburg or Denver-Hong Kong with the lowest costs. The lowest costs will come from the next generation of airliners such as the 787, A350 and 777-X.