International Airlines Group (IAG), the parent company of British Airways, has committed to purchasing up to 42 Boeing 777X airplanes, including 18 firm orders and 24 options.
The airline joins a group of carriers that have selected the 777-9, which will debut in April 2019.
The commitment, valued at up to $18.6 billion at list prices, will be reflected on Boeing's Orders and Deliveries website once it is finalized.
The new 777-9 will replace British Airways' larger widebody airplanes, mainly the four-engine 747 jumbo jet.
"The new 777-9 is … 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 chief executive. "This aircraft 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 airline is one of the largest 777 operators with a fleet of nearly 60 of the long-range jet. The airline committed in 2018 to four more 777-300ER (Extended Range) jets via operating lease.
The 777-9 is larger and has a slightly wider cabin than current 777s, which can sit 400-to-425 passengers in a standard two-class cabin. Powered by 787 Dreamliner technologies, a new composite wing, and other enhancements, the 777-9 has a standard range of 7,600nm (14,075km).
The 777X will also debut a redesigned cabin that incorporates 787 features and new technologies. The 777X interior offers larger windows, a wider cabin, new lighting, better cabin altitude, humidity, and sound quality.
The selection by IAG and British Airways puts the 777X at 358 orders and commitments from eight customers. Production of the 777X began in 2017, with first flight planned for 2019 and first delivery expected in 2020.