Emirates Criticizes Boeing, Airbus, Rolls Royce, And General Electric

Emirates boss Tim Clark has let rip in an interview in London this week. Speaking to Skift, the Emirates President spoke frankly about the problems besetting Boeing, Airbus, General Electric, and Rolls Royce and how they were adversely impacting upon Emirates. The industry is struggling with grounded aircraft, faulty engines, cost overruns, and delivery delays. Tim Clark is not impressed. And as Brian Summers, writing for Skift says, somebody had to say it.

Emirates is drawing a line in the sand with the big aircraft manufacturers. Photo: Nockwell1 via Pixabay.

Tim Clark said, “We are not in a business to deal with aircraft that don’t function properly.” Airline bosses around the globe are probably cheering Mr. Clark on.

Why Tim Clark is unhappy

The Emirates president doesn’t have issues with safety. Rather, he has issues with planes being delivered that are flawed, often late, and not 100% reliable. Emirates looks for 99.5% reliability from its planes and minimal maintenance in the first five years of an aircraft’s life.


Emirates is looking to phase out its fleet of A380s, replacing them with long-range twin-engined planes. The airline currently has orders for 231 aircraft, including 40 A330-900neos, 30 A350-900s, 35 Boeing 777-8s, and 115 Boeing 777-9s.


Tim Clark calls them “hugely potent aircraft … that are not being put together as well as they should be.” In the interview, Mr. Clark let it be known that Emirates would not be taking any further aircraft from either manufacturer until they can deliver the reliability the airline needs.

Tim Clark was in London at the Aviation Festival last week. Photo: Emirates.

It’s not just Boeing and Airbus that copped a serve from Tim Clark. Engine manufacturers General Electric and Rolls Royce were also in the firing line. 


Whilst Rolls Royce is perhaps best known for the issues it has with the Dreamliner engines (Emirates has no Dreamliners in its fleet so dodged that bullet), Rolls Royce does make the A380 engines and Emirates is the biggest operator of A380s in the world (they still have 11 on order).

But “there is no stability in the Rolls Royce program at the moment as we see it,” Tim Clark told Skift. It needs to be sorted out before Emirates will take any more aircraft from Airbus fitted with the engines.

“Is that not unreasonable? … We have 615 people on 15 or 20 of these [A380] aircraft that we own flying around, and if an engine doesn’t work or a part fails, they are stranded at Heathrow or Frankfurt or Auckland. The consequential damage to us is huge because I have to get rid of 615 passengers. I have to disperse them on other carriers, which I have to pay. I have to pay the punitive damages that the Europeans or New Zealand is imposing on us under their consumer protection legislation.” 

Grounded aircraft cost Emirates a lot of money. Photo: Emirates

General Electric didn’t escape unscathed either. Emirates has a large 777X order which will be powered by G.E. engines. But Boeing recently announced a significant delay to 777X development and production, ostensibly to concentrate on more immediate issues such as the 737 MAX grounding and 787 engine issues. But according to Tim Clark, engine problems are at the heart of the 777X’s delay.

“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.”

Emirates draws a line in the sand

Effectively, Emirates is drawing a line in the sand. As Mr. Clark says, the manufacturers expect prompt payment, but the airlines are conditioned to accept flawed aircraft and delayed delivery. It’s something Emirates is no longer willing to tolerate.

And fair enough. Given the cost of new aircraft, something pretty close to perfection should be delivered.

Perhaps if other airlines publically backed Tim Clark’s comments and put some real pressure on the manufacturers, we might see a speedier resolution of the current problems with Boeing, Airbus, G.E., and Rolls Royce.

Simple Flying approached Emirates for a comment on Mr. Clark’s interview but had not received a response prior to publication.

Have any thoughts on Mr. Clark’s interview? Post a comment.


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Tim Clark misses one important point which is a dilemma that cannot be resolved: Boeing and Airbus have to overpromise on delivery dates otherwise they lose orders to the competition. Means airlines expect to be given unrealistically early delivery dates and expect to have no issues upon delivery. Development time lines are so short now and it should be no surprise that these cannot be held.


Considering that he has mentioned all the names of the Western aircraft and engine builders he had no option but to go East. Plenty of suppliers that welcomes Emirates money.

Ralph Webb

Who are these other suppliers?


Russian engines are incompatible to western avionics. And they are old and inefficient as well..They haven’t built a big airliner design since the soviet collapse..

Gerry Stumpe

Kudos are in order for Emirates candor. Quality control should be number one especially considering the cost of airplanes.


He’s just taking a leaf out of Al Baker’s book. Kick up a fuss to get a discount

Neil J Chernoff

I suscribe to the Aeroinsider and the problems Tim Clark is describing is far worse. Boeing is the worst airline in the sky. Their manufacturin gprocess is a joke. They had their dreamliners grounded for fires on board severalyears ago and they continue to this day. To fix the problem they put a metal box around the batteries to isolate each electrode. when metal is a heat conductor. I am an experimental phyiscists who also solved Climate Change which means my technology ends all forms of man-made energy the power companies, the electric grids, charing stations, Greenhouse Gases. We reduce… Read more »


This guy.

Shehryar Iqbal

Boeing is not an airlines.

Nate Dogg

You talk a total load of utter crap. The position of the engine on the wing is decided by the necessary clearance of that engine from the floor. The newer high bypass engines have a larger fan and casing. On the 737 MAX the engine has had to be lifted higher. On the A320neo AND A330neo too. It does not cause critical disruption to the flight surfaces but the bigger engines DO cause more drag which results in a nose up attitude which Boeing have tried to correct by computer adjusted trim (MCAS) and Airbus also. Boeing didn’t get it… Read more »


I agree with Tim to a certain extent. He did miss P&R. Aviation is still progress and course there are growth pains for everyone. You have to be reasonable and accept that advanced technology isn’t flawless.


This will continue as long as there are only two options with years of back orders. Japan and China need to get in the game and offer some real competition.

Jack Weir

Mr Clark also needs to look at his own operation. I was a loyal Emirates customer for a number of years until abused by their customer services personnel in Dubai last year and the subsequent responses to my complaints from the company’s customer services manager in Australia. This year I gave my custom to one of his competitors.

Glen Towler

I do think the time lines are too short for the development of new engines. Too much focus on short term gain. When engines fail due to being rushed into service everyone loses. The engine companies need spend more time getting the engines right first time.

Maurice Bellucci

Totally agree. The marketing department of the companies involved always cave in to the ever decreasing amount of time for development set by the customer (Airlines). Why? Their answer is not to miss out on the sale. Once you have the sale then work out how to do it and achieve the timeline. Instead of saying yes immediately, why not consult the engineers. Ask the engineers how long they realistically need for the development time. Then maybe we would not have as many failures as we are experiencing now.


In my opinion. I’ve agreed with Tim Clark’s massive critics for Airbus, Boeing, Rolls Royce, and General Electric. Like, who wants to pay, let say this, an A380 with Engine Issues, Boeing 777X with a broken GE-9X and even newly delivered planes with issues that they need to return back and pay even more for repairs. I think for the big critics like these its more envolved with safety, and the amount of payment that they are for the cost per plane needs to be assembled, painted, tested, checked and delivered on time. If delivery takes even longer or a… Read more »