On Day 4 of the Dubai Air Show, Emirates presented the result of the second part of its fleet-rethink. The airline has reduced its orders on the Boeing 777X and placed a firm order for 30 787-9s instead worth $8.8 billion.
The Emirates-party let the media wait for some 45 minutes for the last commercial announcement of this year’s show. It had been expected beforehand that the 777X-order would be revised, just as is has done a revision of its commitment to the Airbus A380 in February by reducing orders from 162 to 123. Only this Monday it concluded its Airbus-rethink by ordering 50 A350-900s.
The jury was out on the status of the 777X. After ordering 115 -9s and 35 -8s at the 2013 Dubai Air Show and converting six 777-300ERs to the 777X, Emirates had commitments to 156. This number has now been reduced by 30 to 126 by executing a straight conversion right into the 787-9.
Emirates will start discussions with Boeing on the 777X-deliveries within the next week as delivery of the first aircraft – which is already in advanced final assembly – has been delayed due to issues with the General Electric GE9X. Also, the flight test program has yet to demonstrate the aircraft will do what Emirates expects it to, which is offering the best unit costs of any aircraft in the fleet.
There is still a question mark over the -8 after Boeing announced it has been postponed indefinitely.
Just as Airbus had lost an MoU for 40 A330-900s this week when Emirates only selected the A350, Boeing today has seen the order lapse for 40 787-10s. This was announced in 2017 with some fanfare but the Letter of Intent was never confirmed.
It was only last September when Sir Tim Clark confirmed that the 787-9 was being considered. Today, Emirates said the type fits in nicely into some thinner network and wants them as soon as possible. Clark has no question marks over its performance capabilities of the -9 and thinks it is possibly one of the best aircraft in service right now.
Emirates hasn’t decided on the engines for the 787-9s and will do this only in some 18 to 24 months. Deliveries start in May 2023 and will take some five years. Clark has been most critical of the Rolls-Royce product at his September media roundtable in London. He demanded then the engine maker should up its game and improve the reliability of the Trent-family. Yet, Emirates has committed to the Trent XWB-84 for its A350-order, the sole model for this aircraft that’s available. For the 787’s there is a choice between the Trent 1000 and General Electric GEnx that Emirates certainly would like to exploit.
As for the 787-10 and A330neo, they remain in the mix for a future fleet renewal program, Clark said. He announced that in the early 2020s Emirates will restart expansion of its network “in no uncertain terms. We can do this with these aircraft.” This expansion includes also a further ‘bolting-on’ with the operations of flydubai as a feeder program to Emirates.
Active as a journalist since 1987, with a background in newspapers, magazines, and a regional news station, Richard has been covering commercial aviation on a freelance basis since late 2016.
Richard is contributing to AirInsight since December 2018. He also writes for Airliner World, Aviation News, Piloot & Vliegtuig, and Luchtvaartnieuws Magazine. Twitter: @rschuur_aero.