Emirates Airline is alarmed by Boeing’s inability to resolve its production issues. In an interview with Airline Ratings, Tim Clark, the carrier’s president, admitted to even canceling the massive order for 115 777Xs in case the US planemaker delays the program further.
“Honestly, if it goes beyond 2023 and it goes on for another year, we probably cancel the program,” Clark admitted if Boeing fails to certify the 777-9 in July next year, as the company promised Emirates.
The Dubai airline is betting on the 777-9 as a large-capacity aircraft that can replace the A380 and 777-300ER with more efficient operation.
But the development problems of the huge twin-engine widebody have made the company put into practice an alternative strategy, that of extending the life of the A380. Clark explained that the world’s largest passenger plane is designed to withstand up to 19,000 cycles, but that Emirates is trying to persuade Airbus to extend that limit to up to 30,000 cycles.
The carrier’s fear lies in the distrust shown by the FAA, the US civil aviation agency, which has assumed the individual certification of aircraft produced by Boeing. Even before the 737 MAX’s safety problems, the authority delegated to the manufacturer itself to check its planes.
Due to the change, the approval process for produced aircraft should take longer. “Whereas it was taking X amount of time to take delivery of an airplane, that is probably going to quadruple now because the FAA wants to go in and do everything themselves,” said Clark.
Boeing has already completed the assembly of 12 Emirates 777-9s, which are still in storage without the engines. The airline hopes to have them in 2024, four years after the original forecast.
787 in doubt
Emirates’ situation is not limited to the 777X. The carrier also has an order for 30 787-9 Dreamliners, which should begin delivery in May 2023.
Tim Clark is also skeptical about Boeing’s ability to resolve the aircraft’s quality problems and resume production, which has been suspended for months. For the president of Emirates, the manufacturer will take two to three years to regularize the pace of deliveries. Until then, the A380s and 777-300ERs should still remain a common presence at the company’s Dubai hub.