Emirates threatens to cancel the Boeing 777X orders if delivery postponed beyond 2023

Emirates is prepared to cancel its order for 115 B777X if Boeing delays their first deliveries beyond 2023, Chairman Tim Clark told Airlineratings in an interview.

“If it goes beyond 2023 and it goes on for another year, we probably cancel the program. What else can we do? We can’t continue the way we are. Boeing really needs to get their act together and get this aircraft sorted. Don’t forget – the aircraft was originally designed for delivery in April 2020, it’s now 2024 if we are lucky,” he said.

Emirates is prepared to cancel its order for 115 B777X if Boeing delays first deliveries beyond 2023

They were supposed to come in May 2023. He mentioned that Boeing has a huge backlog as they haven’t produced any aircraft lately, that’ll take them two or three years to go over that. They got production and quality control issues that they admit, and now after the MAX crisis with the regulator saying ‘we want to have a good look at everything, that is slowing the whole thing down.

The Emirati carrier has firm orders for 99 B777-9s and 16 B777-8s, making it the largest customer of the type globally. Clark underlined that Emirates remains committed to the B777X, partially due to a lack of alternatives in the same capacity range. He revealed that he had lobbied Airbus to develop a replacement for the A380, but the manufacturer is unwilling to invest in this segment.

Emirates trimmed its B777 order to 115 jets partly by swapping them for B787 Dreamliners

While twelve initial B777-9 fuselages for Emirates have already been built, Clark said Boeing had so far committed to delivering just three to five of them in 2024.

The American manufacturer hopes to obtain the B777-9 type certificate by July 2023, although the Federal Aviation Administration slowed the certification process in 2021, potentially delaying service entry to the first quarter of 2024.

Clark disclosed that intensive engine tests are planned this summer in Dubai, where the aircraft will be subject to repeated maximum-power take-offs in hot and dusty conditions.

Emirates originally ordered 150 B777 twin-engined jets in 2013

Clark said Emirates’ order for 30 B787-9s was also in danger due to the ongoing pause in the type’s production caused by manufacturing issues discovered in mid-2021.

“They were supposed to come in May 2023. But it’s not going to happen, how can they deliver? Look at the huge backlog, they haven’t produced any aircraft lately, that’ll take them two or three years to go over that… [Our contract with Boeing] is in a complete mess. We don’t want to cancel the B787s or the B777-9s, we want the airplanes,” Clark said.

Emirates’ fleet currently comprises 121 A380-800s (which are no longer produced)

The airline is worried that these delivery delays will cause capacity gaps once traffic recovers after the COVID-19 pandemic. Emirates’ fleet currently comprises 121 A380-800s (which are no longer produced, although Clark has vowed to continue operating some of them through the mid-2030s), 124 B777-300(ER)s (which are 9 years old on average), and ten B777-200(LR)s (13.8 years old).

“We try to deal with it by extending aircraft lives and trying to advance some of the new aircraft, which currently will only come from 2024. Life extension will affect about 120 aircraft, 80 of them A380s, plus about 40 or 50 B777-300ERs. The exact numbers haven’t been fixed. Their life will be extended by six to ten years each,” Clark explained.

We don’t want to cancel the B787s or the B777-9s, we want the airplanes – Tim Clark

A Boeing spokesperson said it “remains focused on executing the comprehensive series of tests and conditions to demonstrate the safety and reliability of the airplane’s design”. Boeing will continue to work closely with customers, the company said.

Emirates originally ordered 150 of the twin-engined jets in 2013, becoming by far their biggest customer. It later trimmed the order to 115 jets partly by swapping them for 787s and has previously suggested it could switch more of the order to 787s.

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