Following a substantial order a little over two years ago, Emirates is set to operate the A350-900 XWB from 2023. However, following this year’s Dubai Air Show and Boeing’s delay in delivering the 777X, Airbus hinted that it could potentially bring deliveries of the A350 forward as Emirates rethinks the composition of its fleet.
At the Dubai Air Show in November 2019, Emirates placed an order for 50 Airbus A350-900 XWBs. At the time, the deal was worth $16 billion according to the list price. The total number of A350s came about as the airline amended a tentative order for 30 of the type alongside an additional 40 A330neos from earlier that same year.
“Together with the A380, the A350 will give us more capacity and flexibility. We will be able to expand to new markets with these aircraft,” Emirates Chief Executive Officer Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum said at the time of the order.
He added that the aircraft were less noisy and would allow for a lower carbon footprint. The first deliveries of the A350-900s were scheduled to begin in 2023 and feature the airline’s new premium economy cabin.
Despite the ongoing crisis, there has been no news of delivery deferrals. In fact, Airbus Chief Executive Officer, Guillaume Faury, hinted at the Dubai Air Show this year that the manufacturer would like to serve its customers should they want their planes earlier than agreed upon.
Absolute order numbers could change
Depending on the recovery trajectory for the aviation industry, Emirates might indeed be needing those A350s sooner than intended. The UAE flag carrier was counting on having added the first Boeing 777Xs to its fleet by now.
While the A350 order is substantial, it is less than half of Emirates’s order with rival manufacturer Boeing for the 777X. However, with deliveries postponed and the US planemaker still having issues to take care of with its new flagship, the 115 strong order is far from set in stone.
“You can never say never. There are issues still out there which Boeing has got to resolve. We also have aircraft from Airbus coming in. So we’ll have a look at all that and see how it best fits the network. In terms of mix and the absolute number that could all change,” Sir Tim Clark, President of Emirates, told Bloomberg at this year’s edition of the Dubai Air Show.
Vote of confidence looking to new markets
In 2020, Airbus saw cancellations for 11 of the A350. Up until December 2021, the corresponding number of cancellations for this year was five. However, none of them were from Emirates. Thus, the vote of confidence remains, despite concerns from carriers over the quality of the paint job on Airbus’ latest widebody.
The A350-900 equipped with Rolls-Royce XWB engines will open up a range of new markets for Emirates. The aircraft’s range of 15,000 km will allow the carrier to operate long-haul services of up to 15 hours flying time from Dubai. Meanwhile, the airline also intends to deploy the aircraft on routes in the region, potentially on some of the shorter-haul routes currently served by the A380.
Do you think Emirates should stick with its 777X order or take on more A350s? Leave a comment below and let us know why.