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Boeing employees celebrate the launch of the company’s 777X (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Katie Bailey)

Emirates Expects Further Delay in 777X, Looks to Swap With 787 Dreamliner

Emirates, Boeing’s biggest 777X customer with 115 firm orders, expects another delay with deliveries due to the ongoing novel Coronavirus pandemic. The airline no longer expects to receive its first 777X next year, Emirates chief operating officer (COO) Adel Al Redha told Bloomberg on Thursday. After there had previously been a deferment due to technical problems, Boeing had to postpone the first delivery to 2021. An Emirates spokesman previously told AirlineGeeks that the carrier would announce the product details for its Boeing 777X at a later time closer to delivery without commenting on the delay.

Boeing had originally planned to begin deliveries of the 777X in 2020. However, the manufacturer had to defer the first delivery date to 2021 due to engine problems and a blown-out door that tore through the fuselage during a high-pressure stress test in September 2019.

Deliveries of the 777X aircraft, which completed its maiden flight in January, will likely be delayed again due to certification procedures and Boeing’s suspension of production operations to curb the spread of the respiratory disease pandemic, according to the airline’s COO.

The Dubai-based airline also weighs swapping some of its 777X orders with 787 Dreamliner which could be a better option in terms of demand during the current aviation crisis.

Back in November 2019, the Gulf carrier reduced its order for the 777X by 24 aircraft, swapping them for 30 Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft. German flag carrier Lufthansa also converted 14 firm orders for 777X into options, leaving six firm commitments in November 2019. The German airline converted 14 777X orders to 20 787s orders.

“We will be discussing with Boeing in that regard if we look at what we can do with the 787. We are in a fluid discussion and in the peak of re-examining all these kinds of things. It does require re-examination, it does require re-thinking, it does require renegotiation,” said Emirates chief operating officer.

Boeing stated that it was working closely with customers to deal with the COVID 19 situation.

“We continue to execute our robust test program for the 777-9, which began flight testing in January,” Boeing said in a statement, referring to the longest version of the 777X. “We remain pleased with the progress we are making and with the airplane,” said a Boeing spokesperson.

Airlines Prefer 787 and A350 Following the Pandemic

According to Boeing’s 777 order summary, Emirates is the largest customer of the model with 115 aircraft followed by Qatar Airways with 60 orders. Boeing sold six aircraft to Lufthansa, 25 to Etihad Airways, 21 to Cathay Pacific, 20 to All Nippon Airways, 20 to Singapore Airlines and 18 to British Airways. The world’s major airlines placed numerous orders for the model as the aircraft has more advanced engines, improved aerodynamics and consumes significantly less kerosene than earlier variants.

However, the novel coronavirus pandemic forced most airlines to restructure their organization to protect and sustain their businesses. In the new normal, airline companies are revising their order books, which might end up 777X cancellations or deferments. The airline companies have already launched their restructuring processes by shrinking their fleets, canceling or deferring aircraft orders, removing wide-body or quad-jets from their fleets and operating smaller aircraft to survive the unprecedented aviation crisis.

The new aircraft is very important for the manufacturer as the new wide-body has to be a success story after the 737 MAX debacle. However, the pandemic crisis might disappoint the Chicago-based aircraft manufacture duopoly as the airlines will opt for smaller and cheaper long-haul aircraft like 787 Dreamliner and Airbus A350.

Emirates has an order book with 203 aircraft orders including 30 787-9, 115 777X and 50 A350 aircraft.

Bulent Imat
Bulent Imat
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