With the launch of the new 777-200LR (long range) "Worldliner," Boeing is hoping to attract airlines that will
ferry passengers directly between multiple points.
The new, 301-passenger, long-range 777 is expected to make its first flight in March and will be delivered first to Pakistan International airlines in January of 2006.
The twin-engine airplane, when equipped with three optional fuel tanks, will be capable of flying 9420 nautical miles (17,446km), enough to "connect any two cities in the world today," said Lars Andersen, Boeing's vice president in charge of the 777 programme.
There's a hitch, though. Although the plane can fly from London to Sydney, it will have to stop once to refuel while returning via the same route as it would be flying against high-altitude jet streams.
The 777-200LR will compete directly with Airbus's A340-600 and A340-500, but have seat-mile costs 15% to 18% lower than those models, Boeing said.
Boeing is betting that airlines will be buying more mid-size jetliners in the same class as the 777 to ferry passengers between multiple cities, rather than gathering them at big airport hubs and carrying
them on larger planes.
Rival Airbus, which overtook the Chicago-based aerospace company last year as the world's largest commercial jet manufacturer, thinks people will continue to travel through major airport hubs with its superjumbo A380 aircraft that can carry as many as 840 people.