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Despite Delays and Threats, Emirates Says it is Sticking With Existing Aircraft Orders (For Now)

Despite Delays and Threats, Emirates Says it is Sticking With Existing Aircraft Orders (For Now)

a man in a white suit walking up the stairs of an airplane

Emirates Airline says its order book for nearly 200 new aircraft “remains unchanged” despite ongoing delays to both the Boeing 777X and 787 Dreamliner, and threats to walk away from the Airbus A350 order because of surface degradation issues that have been the cause of a nasty legal spat between Airbus and Qatar Airways.

“Emirates’ order book of 197 aircraft remains unchanged at this time,” said the Dubai-based airline on Friday as it revealed its annual financial results. “The airline is firmly committed to its long-standing strategy of operating a modern and efficient fleet.”

At the end of March, Emirates had a total of 262 aircraft in its fleet with an average age of 8.2 years – in 2016, however, the average fleet age was just 5.2 years.

One of the reasons Emirates’ aircraft fleet age is starting to creep up is because anticipated retirements of older Boeing 777 aircraft have been put on hold due to ongoing delays in the development of the next-generation 777X (or 777-9 as it is also known).

Emirates currently has the following aircraft on order:

  • 115 Boeing 777X
  • 30 Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners
  • 50 Airbus A350-900
  • 2 Boeing 777F

Emirates had originally hoped to get its hands on its first 777X aircraft back in 2020 but development and certification delays have pushed back the first deliveries until 2025 at the earliest.

Meanwhile, an investigation into the shoddy production of 787 Dreamliners has forced Boeing to pause deliveries of the aircraft type for nearly a year. As a result, production is seriously delayed and Emirates doesn’t now anticipate receiving its first Dreamliner until 2024 – around 12 months later than planned.

And frustrations are starting to build between Airbus and Emirates because of a delay with the A350 order. Emirates’ first A350 is also delayed by about a year and the first won’t be delivered until August 2024 at the earliest.

Emirates’ president Tim Clark has openly voiced his frustration and annoyance with the delays in recent interviews and has even suggested that the airline will change up the orders if problems aren’t rectified soon.

Most of Clark’s ire has been directed at Boeing but the long time aviation executive has also taken aim at Airbus and purported paint quality issues with its A350 aircraft. Clark has suggested Emirates could refuse deliveries of the A350 if there were any quality issues.

The Airbus and Boeing duopoly as manufacturers of widebody aircraft, however, means that Emirates has little option but to stick with its existing orders as much as it hates the current delays.

The commitment to keeping the orders as previously agreed would suggest, however, that Emirates has managed to reach a settlement with Boeing and Airbus, notwithstanding any further delays.

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