Emirates scales back orders of Boeing jets

Edmund Heaphy
Finance and news reporter
Boeing aircraft operated by Emirates at Dubai International Airport. Photo: Christopher Pike/Reuters

Middle East airline Emirates on Wednesday announced a new deal for Boeing (BA) jets worth almost $9bn (£6.9bn), even as it significantly scaled back the number of planes on order from the manufacturer.

The airline said that it had ordered 30 Boeing 787 Dreamliner jets as part of an $8.8bn deal, or 10 fewer than it had tentatively signalled it would purchase in 2017.

Emirates will also purchase 126 Boeing 777 jets, or 24 fewer than it had originally ordered, after delivery of the planes was delayed.

The first 777 jet from the order was due to arrive in 2020, but Boeing has said that it will not arrive until 2021.

Emirates has criticised production delays and even issues with delivered aircraft involving both Boeing and rival manufacturer Airbus.

Earlier this week, Emirates also scaled back orders of Airbus jets by 20 aircraft.

But the signing of the deals will be a boost to Boeing and Airbus, who have been waiting for confirmation of the colossal deals.

“The 787s will complement our fleet mix by expanding our operational flexibility in terms of capacity, range and deployment,” said Emirates CEO Shiekh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum on Wednesday.

“We are also pleased to reaffirm our commitment to the Boeing 777X programme and look forward to its entry into service,” he said.

The trimming of Boeing orders comes amid the crisis surrounding the Boing 737 Max jet, which remains grounded as the manufacturer finalises software and training changes that will need approval from regulators.

Boeing nonetheless received $6bn (£4.6bn) worth of orders for the troubled jet, with Kazakhstan’s Air Astana signing a letter of intent at the Dubai airshow to order 30 of the jets for its FlyArystan subsidiary.

Earlier in the week, Emirates president Tim Clark said he wanted Boeing 777 jets, a different model to the grounded 737 aircraft, to be put through “hell on Earth” in testing to ensure it is safe to fly.

“I want one aircraft to go through hell on Earth, basically to make sure it all works,” Clark said following a meeting with the head of the the US Federal Aviation Administration.