Emirates re-evaluating Boeing 777X order

Emirates loves making big orders and since they operate an all widebody fleet it is even more interesting. But not always are the announcements fruitful especially for some of the past orders we have seen.

As you can see there have been quite a few order swaps. The initial A350 order got swapped for more A380s. But when Airbus announced that they will shut down the production of A380s post-2021, Emirates had to swap their order for remaining A380s for 40 A330-900 and 30 A350-900 aircraft as a part of the negotiations.

boeing 777x

Emirates 777-300ER

The A330-900 and 787-10 are roughly the same size and compete for the same market. So why have two different fleet types for the same market? Hence Emirates didn’t firm up the order for 787-10 which it had placed in 2017.

So as of now, Emirates has the following aircraft on order apart from a few A380s which will be delivered till 2021.

  • 115 Boeing 777-9s, deliveries starting in 2020
  • 35 Boeing 777-8s, deliveries starting in 2021
  • 40 Airbus A330-900neos, deliveries starting in 2021
  • 30 Airbus A350-900s, deliveries starting in 2024

Talking about the 777X program, Boeing recently pushed back the first flight date which was otherwise going to happen in June 2019 by six months. Lufthansa will be the launch customer for the 777-9 and will receive the first aircraft in 2020. Emirates and Qatar Airways will also receive their first 777-9 in 2020. As of now, Boeing has orders for 344 777X aircraft out of which 150 are from Emirates, so that’s 43% of the 777X order book.

In a recent interview with The Seattle Times, Emirates President Tim Clark confirmed that there have been some renegotiations going on with the 777X order and they may soon arrive at a conclusion. Tim Clark confirmed in the interview that,

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.

So Emirates is trying to keep the number of aircraft from the order of 150 777X plus 40 options same while looking at substituting 40 777X for 40 787s and deferring deliveries for a part of the order. Tim Clark also said that Emirates finalised a future fleet plan in April 2019.

The order book is interesting if you look at the mix of the aircraft types that Emirates will take or might order in the future. Currently, Emirates operates 777s and A380s with a seating capacity from 302 seats on 777-200LRs all the way up to 614 seats on 2 class A380s, with a majority of them being in the 360-517 seat range.

boeing 777x

Emirates A380

Moving forward in future, the share of smaller widebodies in Emirates fleet will start increasing as the A380s will be retired by 2030, Emirates will be taking delivery of smaller A330-900 and A350-900s while the 777X will replace the older 777s.

Emirates knows that it needs smaller widebody aircraft for growth as well as to increase revenues from existing routes. There aren’t a lot of routes which can be operated with the 777 or the A380. There will be a time in future when even some existing routes won’t have enough demand for bigger widebodies as newer fuel-efficient aircraft open up non-stop options for other carriers.

Hence the order for smaller widebodies like A330-900 and A350-900. If Emirates is looking at ordering 40 787s it might be for 787-9 rather than the larger 787-10. Maybe Emirates may remove the 777-8 order completely and go for a combination of 787-9 and 777-9. We never know. They may be looking at deferring deliveries of a part of the 777X order well into future so as to keep an option for substituting a part of the order for another aircraft type later on. I can’t figure out where will the 787-9 fit in Emirates network strategy if they order it. Will it be a replacement for the 777-200LR maybe?

Emirates is expected to announce the changes if made at the Dubai Airshow 2019 in November.

What are your thoughts on Emirates reconsidering their 777X order?

(H/T One Mile at a Time)

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