By Ilona Wissenbach and Riham Alkousaa
FRANKFURT/BERLIN -Germany’s Lufthansa is in talks with Boeing on buying a possible new freighter version of the 777X jetliner, while welcoming competition with a new Airbus A350 cargo plane, Chief Executive Carsten Spohr said on Friday.
“We have been negotiating about this morning, but there is much more negotiation to be done,” Spohr said at an event to present the upcoming Boeing 777X passenger plane.
Fitted with bulky test equipment instead of seats, the giant twin-engined test plane stopped off in Frankfurt after visiting the Dubai Airshow, where host Emirates is the largest 777X customer, and Qatar, whose flag carrier is also a customer.
Spohr’s comments come amid competition to sell new cargo planes to meet demand in the wake of the coronavirus crisis.
Qatar Airways said this week it had an “interesting” proposal from Boeing for a potential 777X freighter, for which it is widely expected to be a launch customer later this year.
Airbus this week announced an inaugural leasing customer for the freighter version of its A350 as it seeks to break into a Boeing-dominated market for cargo planes.
Bloomberg News reported it may announce a new freighter order later on Friday.
Cargolux, a major operator of Boeing 747 freighters, is being heavily wooed by Airbus, industry sources said.
Simple Flying reported last month that a delegation from the Luxembourg-based cargo carrier had visited Airbus headquarters in Toulouse. Online publication ‘aero Telegraph’ reported that two recent A350 test flights had carried the call sign CARGOLUX.
Speaking in Frankfurt, Spohr said Lufthansa would be the first airline to receive the 777X passenger plane in 2023.
“That was confirmed today … we will be the first operator to receive the aircraft,” Spohr added.
It also expects to receive its first Boeing 787 plane on time for the summer season next year.
The first 777X delivery has been delayed by two and half years, partly due to coronavirus pandemic and talks with aviation regulators in the U.S. and Europe, Boeing said.