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An artist's impression of a Catahy Pacific 777-X9. Boeing photo.

The Cathay Pacific 777-9X. – Boeing photo.

One of Asia’s biggest airlines has given a major boost to Boeing’s 777X program, ordering 21 aircraft worth more than $7 billion dollars.

Cathay Pacific’s order is for the 777-9X version of the yet to be named aircraft. This version will offer seating for more than 400 passengers, and the airline says the order reflects its future long-haul fleet strategy.

“We think it will be an ideal fit for long-haul destinations in North America and Europe, in particular those routes where we carry high volumes of passengers and cargo each day,” said John Slosar, CEO of the Hong Kong flag carrier.

In addition, the 777-9X promises improved payload range capability and reduced operating costs, he said.

The 777X program was launched at the Dubai Airshow last month where Boeing won orders and commitments for 259 aircraft worth $95 billion.

“The 777X currently stands as the largest product launch in commercial jetliner history by value and is targeted for first delivery in 2020,” Boeing said Friday in announcing the Cathay Pacific deal.

The aircraft is now undergoing low-speed wind tunnel tests in Britain.

Cathay Pacific has been a major Boeing customer for years. It operates 55 777s and an all-Boeing freighter fleet that includes 13 747-8

The 777X is the newest member of the highly successful 777 family of long-haul airliners.

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