When Emirates first announced its record-breaking order in 2013 for 150 Boeing 777X aircraft – the future was incredibly bright. Both Emirates and Boeing were growing at an incredible rate, and there was no reason to suspect anything would change. Of course, in retrospect, many things have changed, the most significant factors being 777X development delays followed by a global health crisis. While the former threatened timely supply, the latter obliterated anticipated demand. So, where does Emirates’ 777X order stand now?
“What we’re announcing today is a continuation of our commitment and vision to connect the world through our efficient hub in the Middle East. Emirates’ aircraft orders today, with deliveries of the 777X scheduled to start in 2020, will take us to 2025 and beyond – replacing aircraft due for retirement and providing the foundation for future growth,” – HH Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al-Maktoum, Chairman and Chief Executive of Emirates Airline and Group (November 2013)
An adjusted order
It’s been seven years since the order, valued at $76 billion ($83 billion in 2020), was placed. At the time, the Dubai-based carrier wanted to obtain 35 Boeing 777-8s and 115 Boeing 777-9s. However, this would change at the end of 2019.
Last November, Emirates announced that it would be ordering 30 Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners. The order would actually be a swap, with the 787s taking the place of 24 777X orders.
While it was never explicitly stated, it seemed quite clear that the swap was due to the delays in the 777X’s development, having come at a time when Emirates was working on a timeline to expand and meet the growing demand.
An adjusted timeline
The entry into service of Boeing’s latest widebody is about six months behind schedule. However, the current global health crisis has probably taken a fair bit of pressure off of Boeing as it works to bring the 777X to market.
Had the program been on its original-schedule-trajectory, we might have seen some of these jets go straight from the factory to long-term storage. With travel restrictions still in place across much of the world, air travel has been devastated, and many are expecting a multi-year recovery to pre-crisis levels of traffic.
With the Boeing 777-9 now expected to fly sometime in early 2021, there will be more than a few months for the aviation sector to hopefully recover from its devastating lows of March and April 2020.
One disappointing announcement coming out of the crisis was that Emirates would be pushing back the launch of its all-new premium economy class due to the current situation.
This could mean that Emirates will unveil the new product with one of its new jets next year. Could it debut on the 777-9? It’s a possibility…
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“All bets are off”
According to Executive Traveller, these were the words spoken by Emirates President Sir Tim Clark, in an online forum on June 1st. The ‘bets’ being the billions of dollars in aircraft orders Emirates has placed with Boeing and Airbus.
“We are nowhere near confident enough that the economics, the cash flows, the bottom line will put us in a good position to be able to guess if we’ll buy a hundred of this or a hundred of that.” -Tim Clark, President, Emirates
While it’s not likely that the entire order would be scrapped, Clark’s statement could mean further cuts to the massive 777X order.
While it would be undesirable news for Boeing at this point, the move would be perfectly understandable given the current state of commercial aviation. We’ll just have to wait and see.
Do you think Emirates will change anything about its 777X order? Let us know in the comments.