Emirates in negotiations with Boeing on its 777X order

Dubai airline is the largest customer of the new long-haul jet

REFILE - CORRECTING CAPTION DESCRIPTION An Emirates Airlines Boeing 777-300ER plane prepares to take off at Lisbon's airport, Portugal April 24, 2018. REUTERS/Rafael Marchante
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Emirates, the largest customer of the Boeing 777X, is in talks with the US plane maker to renegotiate its order for 150 of the long-haul jets and potentially replace some of them with the smaller 787.

Emirates ordered the 150 777X at the Dubai Airshow in 2013, which represents nearly half of the total 334 orders for the plane from airlines across the world since its launch in 2013.

The airline, which has an additional order for 40 787 Dreamliners, wants to defer part of its 777X order, Emirates president Tim Clark said. The talks are about to conclude, although an announcement is unlikely to be made before the Dubai Airshow in November.

If Emirates, the world’s biggest operator of wide-body jets, cancels or defers part of its 777X order, the move could potentially affect the plane’s sales prospects and add to the woes of the embattled plane manufacturer.

Mr Clark said he is discussing with Boeing “a combination of the 150 777Xs and the 40 787s, essentially looking to keep the numbers in place, but substituting and spacing them out over a longer timeline”.

Emirates confirmed the talks, which were earlier reported by Seattle Times.

The airline was scheduled to be the first operator to receive a delivery of the first 777X slated for June 2020.

The need to re-examine the airline’s order for the 150 Boeing 777Xs started when Airbus in February said it would pull the plug on its A380 superjumbo programme, Mr Clark told the Seattle newspaper.

After failing to convince the European plane maker to develop the A380neo, an upgraded version of the jet, Emirates cancelled 39 of the A380s it had on firm order.

The airline signed a deal to replace them with smaller wide-body jets of 40 Airbus A330-900neo and 30 of the A350-900 aircraft worth $21.4 billion (Dh78.5bn) – meaning an influx of Airbus wide-body aircraft will be delivered.

Mr Clark described the Boeing negotiations as a “work in progress” and said the total order for planes is likely to end up “roughly the same” at 150 plus 40, “but subject to longer timelines for service entry”.

Mr Clark also said because of the commitment to the Airbus A330-900neos, which are similar in size and performance to the 787-10, he is likely to exchange the Boeing Dreamliner model for the smaller 787-9, the Seattle Times reported.

Roy Cooper / The National
Roy Cooper / The National

The airline president expects to finalise the separate wide-body aircraft deals with Boeing and Airbus "soon" and in time for the Dubai Air Show.

Earlier this month, Mr Clark said Emirates could use the Airbus jets to serve demand in smaller cities. Destinations could include second or third-tier cities in Africa, the US, Asia and South America.

"I'm a great 787 fan. It definitely fits into our network. But equally the A330 and A350 do, so could we have all three working together? Yes, it's possible," he said at a global airlines gathering in Seoul this month.