Uncertain and ready with questions, Emirates has hit a patch of turbulence within their fleet planning scheme.
Deals with Airbus and Boeing have come to a standstill, after concerns were raised over delivery times and engine performance.
President of Emirates, Tim Clark, is expecting a significant number of aircraft to join the Emirates fleet very shortly, however program delays and ongoing engine uncertainties have put firm decisions off.
Boeing 777X and 787 Talks
Set to be the launch customer for the highly anticipated Boeing 777X, with 150 on order, Emirates has been left hanging with the recently announced program setback.
Additionally, news that the smaller 777-8 variant has been temporarily shelved, based on market demand and priorities within Boeing, has left Emirate open to questions.
According to FlightGlobal, Emirates was in advanced talks with Boeing regarding their 777X order when the news came of the delay.
It has been widely discussed that the November Dubai Airshow would see an adjustment of this order, potentially including conversions or cancellations in favour of the smaller 787 Dreamliner.
The largest variant of the 777X, the 777-9, was initially meant to perform its maiden flight in October 2018, however unexpected engine design flaws and the 737 MAX crisis has pushed this back to 2020.
Delivery of the first aircraft was planned for June 2020, with nine aircraft following in close formation, however this is clearly no longer an option.
Tim Clark assumes the test program for the 777X will take 13-16 months, despite Boeing’s aim for an aggressive flight test program.
Taking the new wings and highly-advanced GE9X engines into account, Emirates doesn’t have a guaranteed delivery time, let alone firm serviceability guarantees.
Regarding the Boeing 787 talks Tim Clark refuses to rush into negotiations with engine manufactures, until Rolls-Royce stabilises their situation with the Trent 1000 dilemma.
Concluding on the 777X side of things, Emirates remains confident in the aircraft and is very excited to take it on, however they will wait until it’s proven and can fly without any operational snags.
A330neo and A350 Engine Snags
Switching over to the Airbus side of things, Emirates signed a $21.4 billion deal with Airbus in February 2019; this was after the A380 production termination announcement was made.
Covering 40 A330-900neos and 30 A350-900s, the deal would see the aircraft delivered to Emirates starting in 2021 and 2024 respectively.
Both the A330neo and A350 are powered exclusively by Rolls-Royce engines; leaving Tim Clark longing for performance guarantees and agreements that see appropriate coverage, should a problem occur.
The deal, which was ready to be finalised months ago, is now subject to whether Rolls-Royce can commit to specific performance guidelines and delivery schedules.
Again, citing FlightGlobal, the Airbus order and Boeing 777X/787 adjustment deal is expected to be announced at the Dubai Airshow.
Finalising their fleet planning news, Emirates has disclosed their A380 retirement scheme.
Just after reaching the peak number in the mid-2020s, Emirates will slowly pull aircraft from service until a figure of 90-100 aircraft is operational.
With a current fleet of 112 aircraft under different ownership, financial and leasing agreements, Emirates will decide on what aircraft to remove based on operational life and end of contracts.
The aircraft will be used to support the existing fleet of aircraft in an affordable manner, before eventually being reduced to a bare airframe, long down the line.
Despite this announcement, Tim Clark emphasised that the A380 will continue to fly for the airline until around 2035.
The A380 will continue to be a major component of the Emirates fleet, however it is unknown if it will remain the flagship once the 777X and A350 are in Emirates’ colours.
More announcements and greater amounts of information can be expected during the 2019 Dubai Airshow, which launches on the 17th of November and ends on the 22nd of November.
All commercial announcements will be covered on this blog and its associated social media.