Emirates boss wants troubled Boeing to foot its multibillion-dollar plane retrofit bill

The US plane maker needs five years to fix the crisis it is facing and meet demand for aircraft, Tim Clark says

Tim Clark, president of Emirates, speaks to journalists on the sidelines of the 80th International Air Transport Association's annual meeting in Dubai. Deena Kamel / The National
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Boeing will take at least five years to overcome its current crisis and the troubled US plane maker should foot the bill for Emirates' multibillion-dollar programme to retrofit its 777 wide-body jets amid delays in the development of the newer 777X version, Emirates president Tim Clark has said.

The years-long successive delays in the new aircraft's development programme have forced Emirates to put additional Boeing 777s through retrofit and the airline boss wants Boeing to pay for the extensive refurbishment it is undertaking.

“We need our aeroplanes, we cannot face constant delays, we've got a business to run and the bill for refurbishing all these aeroplanes should be put at Boeing's door,” Mr Clark, president of Emirates, said on Sunday on the sidelines of 80th International Air Transport Association (Iata)'s annual meeting in Dubai.

In May, Emirates said it would be completely refurbishing another 28 Boeing 777 aircraft, after the original plan called for 53 777s to undergo a full makeover.

The Boeing 777-9 model is about five years late and was scheduled for delivery in 2025, but Emirates currently has “no visibility” on the latest time frame of when it can be handed over, Mr Clark said.

At the Dubai Airshow in November, Emirates signed a deal for firm orders for 55 additional Boeing 777-9s and 35 Boeing 777-8s. The airline’s 777X order book currently has a total of 205 jets, making it the biggest buyer of Boeing wide-bodies.

However, Boeing will need five years to address the problems arising from its current safety and quality crisis before meeting plane production demand from new and existing customers, according to the Emirates Airline boss.

“Boeing needs to step back and say 'what did we get wrong over the last 10 or 15 years and how do we address that?', he said.

“They need to go back to where they were and if they do that, the whole process is salvageable, fixable and we can get things back to where they need to be. How long will that take? I think we have a five-year hiatus on our hands.”

Mr Clark is an aviation industry veteran whose airline is a major buyer of Boeing and Airbus wide-body aircraft and he often weighs in on performance issues at both manufacturers who make the planes for the long-haul routes it specialises in.

The airline executive said he is scheduled to meet Stephanie Pope in “the next day or so” during the Iata annual meeting that is taking place in Dubai for the first time from June 2 to June 4.

Updated: June 03, 2024, 5:59 AM