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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 25 June 2018

Exclusive: Emirates likely to order more Boeing 787 Dreamliners, Tim Clark says

The carrier is still in negotiations with Airbus regarding the purchase of additional A380 superjumbos   

Emirates ordered 40 Boeing 787-10 jets at the Dubai Airshow this week worth $15.1 billion. Pawan Singh / The National
Emirates ordered 40 Boeing 787-10 jets at the Dubai Airshow this week worth $15.1 billion. Pawan Singh / The National

Emirates, the world’s largest long-haul airline and biggest operator of wide body aircraft, may order additional Boeing 787 Dreamliner jets, after agreeing to buy 40 of the planes this week at a value of $15.1 billion, its president said.

“Oh I think so. I think so,” Tim Clark said definitively in an interview with The National on Wednesday, when asked if the carrier may buy more of the aircraft.

“If you look at our history whenever we’ve brought a new aircraft type in, we never stayed at the same number we have always increased the number,” Clark added. “The 777 is a classic example of that as is the A380. I think the combination of 787-10s and 787-9s is very much on the cards.”

Emirates ordered 40 Boeing 787s at the start of the Dubai Airshow this week when industry insiders and aviation enthusiasts were anticipating the Dubai-based carrier would top up its existing fleet of A380 superjumbos with another purchase of the double-decker. The carrier's decision to go with the 787 was a blow to Airbus which was touting its wide-body A350. Emirates had previously ordered the A350 but rolled back on its commitment following a review of its fleet requirements and in 2014 cancelled its order for 70 A350s – valued at $16bn.

Though Mr Clark declined to provide a number of potential jets the carrier might order, Emirates’ order history suggests a purchase for an additional 50 to 60 Dreamliners in the future at a value of $18.9bn to $22.65bn is probable.

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“The fact is, the 787s provide so much flexibility on differing route deployments,” said Saj Ahmad chief analyst at Strategic Aero Research in London. “The mix between the 787-9 and 787-10 means Emirates has a common airplane which can fly long, short and dense routes. This was always missing from Emirates fleet jigsaw. Now they have the pieces.”

Emirates, which operates 100 A380s and has another 42 on order, has been pressing Airbus to commit to the future of the double-decker and ensure the viability of its production for the coming two decades. A commitment from the Dubai-based carrier at this week’s Dubai Airshow would have relieved pressure on Airbus, which has not sold the aircraft in more than two years. Unlike other aircraft there is no secondary market for the superjumbo, which makes a commitment by Airbus to the production of the A380 critical to future orders from Emirates.

“I think so, I do yes,” Clark said when asked if he thought the Toulouse-based manufacturer would play ball and address Emirates’ concerns.

In a November 14 interview with The National Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, chairman and chief executive of Emirates said the carrier was still in discussions with Airbus for the purchase of additional A380s. The carrier is reportedly in discussion to buy between 20 and 36 A380s.

As of 30 September, Emirates’ global network spanned 156 destinations in 84 countries while its fleet stood at 264 aircraft including freighters. In addition to 100 A380s in its fleet the airline has 165 Boeing 777s in operation with an additional 164 on firm order, which include 150 next generation 777X aircraft.

Middle East airlines will spend about US$600 billion on new aircraft in the next 20 years, amid projections that the fleet size of the regions’ carriers will more than double to 3,320 aircraft over the period, according to Airbus. The region’s carriers will require around 2,590 new aircraft by 2036: 520 to replace older planes and 2,070 to cater to forecast growth, the manufacturer predicted.

The region is forecast to see the second fastest growth rate of passenger traffic in the world behind Africa, which is projected to grow by 5.9 per cent to 400 million passengers by 2036, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA).