Emirates Now Expects No Boeing 777X Deliveries In 2020

Boss of Middle Eastern giant Emirates has voiced his doubt that the airline will receive any of the promised Boeing 777X aircraft next year. Speaking at a conference in Dubai this morning, Tim Clark cast doubt on the ability of the US manufacturer to resolve current issues with the aircraft, and made it clear he is not counting on the arrival of the aircraft in 2020.

Boeing 777X emirates
Emirates don’t expect any 777X next year. Photo: Boeing

“…it doesn’t look like we will have any”

Emirates is due to be the launch customer for Boeing’s new plane. With 150 on order, Emirates is one of Boeing’s biggest customers for the yet-to-fly aircraft, and was slated to receive eight of the airframe to Dubai over the course of 2020.

However, Emirates is quickly losing faith in the manufacturer’s ability to get this done. Speaking at a conference in Dubai, CEO of Emirates Tim Clark is reported by Reuters as saying,

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

Boeing 777X emirates
Emirates’ first 777X is nearing completion, but the aircraft is yet to be certified. Photo: Emirates

The 777X is the latest iteration of Boeing’s popular 777 series of aircraft. So far, at least nine separate airlines have ordered 344 of the type, including Lufthansa, Etihad, Cathay and IAG for British Airways. However, Emirates is by far the largest customer, with 35 777-8s and 115 777-9s on order.

Where is the 777X now?

The 777X program has been beset by challenges. Despite an original first flight date penciled in for this summer just gone, issues with the GE9X engines pushed this back to the autumn. Further identified issues served to make this flight testing date untenable, with Boeing telling Simple Flying in July that its first flight would now not happen until early 2020.

Boeing 777X emirates
Problems with the GE9X engines have led to delays. Photo: Boeing

More recently, in early September, structural testing of the aircraft has been called off, due to a door blowing off during a stress test. While Boeing reiterated to Simple Flying that this was a case of extreme conditions, a situation that would never happen in real life, it has certainly done nothing to speed up the certification process.

At the Dubai conference today, Clark said that he had insisted on a 13 to 16 month test period for the new jet. This would make it impossible for Boeing to deliver it to Emirates during 2020.

Whether this means Boeing will look to a new launch customer for the jet remains to be seen.

Manufacturers should not over promise

Clark went on to say that manufacturers should not over promise to airlines on things like aircraft delivery and reliability. This is a sentiment he has echoed in the past. Back in September, Clark openly voiced his criticism of not just Airbus and Boeing, but also engine makers GE and Rolls Royce.

Boeing 777X emirates
Clark says manufacturers should stop over promising. Photo: Emirates

In an interview with Skift, Clark complained of faulty engines, delivery delays and cost overruns. He went so far as to say that Emirates would not be taking any more aircraft from either manufacturer until the reliability issues were resolved. In the interview, he commented,

“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.”

Do you think the 777X will be ready to enter service next year? Will Boeing choose a new launch customer or wait for Emirates? Let us know in the comments.