Aerospace and defence company Boeing has reportedly planned to defer the production of new 777X aircraft as the Covid-19 pandemic reduces demand.

Deliveries of the big jetliners could be delayed by several months or even up to a year, Reuters reported, citing three people familiar with the matter.

This decision comes as passenger travel is slowly rebounding following the gradual relaxation of travel restrictions imposed due to the pandemic.

It is reportedly hoping for eased trade tensions between the US and China, from where it expects to connect with several crucial buyers.

However, a delay in development might also open up various risk factors for the company, including reduced engineering attention and momentum, as well as supply chain problems.

It will also have to undergo tougher scrutiny from the US Federal Aviation Administration under the years-long certification process.

Boeing is expected to make an announcement on the delay next week as part of its earnings report, the news agency reported, citing one of the sources.

Although the company refused to comment on the matter, it stated that it is ‘working closely with our customers around the world as they continue to adapt to the evolving Covid-19 situation’.

A larger version of the 777 mini-jumbo, the new twin-aisle 777X is claimed to be one of the most efficient aircraft with 10% reduced fuel consumption and emissions, as well as 10% lower operating costs when compared with other aircraft of its range.

Boeing has been planning for delivery of the 777X to customers by next year. Initial plans for delivery this year were affected by issues such as its General Electric GE9X engines.

According to another source, Boeing expects to put 777X in air by 2022-2023, with production ‘going hard’.

A source told Reuters: “There are so many widebody aircraft being retired, mothballed. If air travel comes back to 2019 levels, many new planes will be needed.”

In February, GKN Fokker Elmon entered a six-year multimillion-dollar agreement with Boeing to supply electrical wiring interconnection systems (EWIS) for the new 777X family aircraft.

Last December, UAE-based airline Emirates acquired two Boeing 777X full-flight simulators (FFS) from aviation technology supplier CAE.

In a separate development, Australian carrier Qantas retired Boeing 747 from its fleet after serving the carrier for nearly 50 years.