What A Delay To The Boeing 777X Program Would Mean For Emirates

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Emirates President Tim Clark came out swinging on Thursday as he made some strong negative statements about Boeing and its 777X program. The program has faced numerous delays and threatens to affect the fleet plans of the large Middle Eastern carrier. The remarks were made made on the sidelines of the Airlines 2050 conference in London, hosted by FlightGlobal.

Engines issues among other things are delaying the 777X program’s first flight. Photo: Emirates Airlines

Stifled growth

“First of all I want to know when the thing’s going to come…Our fleet plans are very much driven by when these aircraft are going to be delivered to us.” – Tim Clark via Reuters

Clark had made earlier remarks saying that it does not expect to see the delivery of a single 777X in 2020. Reuters even reports that the expectation now extends well into the following year – receiving its first 777X before “April or the second quarter” of 2021.

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According to Reuters, the delay of the 777X jetliner is holding back Emirates’ growth. In fact, the Dubai-based carrier has 150 of these large jets on order and originally planned to have them enter service this past June. Therefore, it makes sense that prolonged waiting will also affect the Gulf carrier’s broader fleet requirements.

Clark also told Reuters that this delay “has conditioned everything else,” and that capacity growth will only resume once there is “visibility” on the situation.

“… By the end of next year we were to have eight of them. Now it doesn’t look like we will have any.”

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emirates-boeing 777x nears completion
Emirates’ 777X nearly ready for the paint shop. Photo: Emirates Airlines

For Emirates, a delay to the 777X program simply means that it may need to hang on to its existing widebody fleet longer than expected. The carrier’s fleet consists of 777-200 and -300 jets as well as 112 Airbus A380 super-jumbos.

We’ve already heard that Emirates’ CEO Tim Clark expects the A380 to continue to fly for the Dubai-based airline until the mid-2030s. Depending on the severity of the delay, we may see fewer being retired as per the original plan.

Delays on delays

Boeing suspended load testing on its new 777X in September. The incident in question saw a door blow off the plane as the ground test was underway. This happened under the supervision of engineers and FAA inspectors.

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Although the first Emirates 777X is nearing completion, the program as a whole has faced numerous delays. Issues, which include an engine recall, have meant that the first test flight won’t take place until 2020.

In September, Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg said his company was “working towards entry into service (of the 777X) by the end of 2020,” subject to the availability of engines.

Emirates has an order of 150 Boeing 777x widebody jets. Photo: Boeing

In an interview with Skift, Clark complained of faulty engines, delivery delays and cost overruns. He continued on by saying that Emirates would not be taking any more aircraft from either Boeing nor Airbus until the reliability issues were resolved. Specifically, Clark said the following:

“The fact is, the Boeing 777X is delayed as a result of engine issues, and we are unsure as to when this is going to be resolved ….  The airlines are now being required to deal with those, and work together with manufacturers to get them resolved. I say no. I say, ‘you give us airframes and engines that work from day one.’ If you can’t do it, don’t produce them.”

Conclusion

Ultimately, Clark’s comments to both Boeing and Airbus may have little impact. It is and has already been each manufacturer’s priority to ensure safety and reliability delivered as quickly as possible.

Do you think Tim Clark’s comments have any real impact on how Boeing and Airbus do business? Or is this just a public venting of frustrations that are of little consequence? Let us know by leaving a comment.

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