How Emirates’ CEO Is Leasing 737 MAXs To American Airlines

Last week, American Airlines became the second carrier to receive a Boeing 737 MAX since the model’s ungrounding. The plane is the first out of 18 MAXs part of a sale-and-leaseback arrangement between American and the Dubai Aerospace Enterprise, owned by Emirates CEO, Sheikh Al Maktoum.

American flies two 737 MAX from Roswell to Tulsa
Dubai Aerospace Enterprise, owned by Emirates’ CEO, has delivered the first of 18 Boeing 737 MAXs to American Airlines. Photo: Getty Images

Dubai Aerospace Enterprise

The CEO of Emirates, Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, is not only a member of Dubai’s ruling family and the President of the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority. He is also the owner of the Dubai Aerospace Enterprise (DAE), one of the largest aircraft leasing companies in the world.

Earlier this week, DAE announced that it had delivered the first out of 18 Boeing 737 MAXs to American Airlines. The planes are part of a sale-and-leaseback agreement signed by the parties in the third quarter this year.

“We are delighted to be in a position to offer a meaningful solution to American Airlines, a long-term customer of DAE, and to see the Boeing 737 MAX return to service. We are also pleased to further invest in these technologically advanced and fuel-efficient aircraft types in line with our commitment to environmental sustainability,” said Mr Firoz Tarapore, DAE’s CEO, in a statement.

DAE’s owned and committed fleet of MAXs consists of 22 Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft. In total, the company’s leasing division has a fleet of approximately 425 Boeing, Airbus, and ATR aircraft.

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American DAE 737 MAX
The plane is part of a sale-and-leaseback agreement concluded between DAE and American in Q3 this year. Photo: DAE

Ongoing partnership

By now a little over a year and a half old, the plane has received the registration number N323SG. On December 10th, it flew from Seattle’s Boeing Field to Tulsa to be delivered to American.

“We’re pleased with DAE’s ability to help create a purchase and leaseback solution for these 18 aircraft,” Meghan Montana, American’s Vice President and Treasurer, said in a statement.

“DAE’s ability to facilitate an agreement of this size in today’s environment is a testament to their reputation and their confidence in American Airlines, and we look forward to a successful, ongoing partnership,” she continued.

American Airlines, Doug Parker, Boeing 737 MAX
American has previously expressed criticism over the close ties between the Gulf carriers and state finances. Photo: Getty Images

The battle of the “big threes”

As the View from the Wing points out, this is quite the pivot from American’s previous stance against state subsidies and close ties between rulers and airlines in the Gulf states. In 2015 Delta, United, and American contended that Emirates, Etihad, and Qatar were “unfairly subsidized” by their governments. They further argued that the ties to the fortunes of ruling families were too entwined.

Collectively, the Middle Eastern “big three” had then received over $50 billion in subsidies over the previous decade. Considering the situation that US airlines, and for that matter most carriers across the globe, now find themselves in, it is not surprising that they may have altered their approach to airline and state relationships.