During my recent visit to Dubai, I had the chance to meet Sir Tim Clark, Emirates Airline President, at the sidelines of the Arabian Travel Market.

Emirates Retrofitted Fleet

Emirates refurbished and retrofitted fleet could operate longer as delivery delays for new aircraft remain an issue.

The availability of manufacturers to deliver on schedule is history.

Sir Tim Clark, President of Emirates Airline

“This is one of the reasons why we retrofit all these aircraft (for example Boeing 777s) because we couldn’t be a hostage of (aircraft) delivery schedules which won’t be met, and each time we have been told regarding this issue (supply chain)“, he said.

If Emirates is going to maintain what it is, growing its network, the carrier can no longer rely on manufacturers that give the airline what they say, what they will do under the times Emirates needs them, Clark explained the necessity of the retrofit program.

Emirates has a fleet to maintain around 265 aircraft which are flying today. Come what may from the manufacturers. In May, 137 Boeing 777s and 86 A380s is flying.

Sir Tim Clark, President of Emirates Airline
a infographic of an airplane

Emirates A350 and B777X

Emirates has 165 aircraft on order, including 50 A350s and 115 Boeing 777X starting in 2024 and running through to 2031. "But if they slow (the production) for every reason, Emirates still got the back of the retrofitted fleet, that's basically the strategy behind“, he said.

Clark outlines again, that July 2025 is the last date that the carrier accepts for the 777X delivery delays.

"Maybe we push it one or two months. But Boeing knows that“, Clark said. "I expect the first 777X deliveries to Emirates somewhere between July and October 2025“.

Emirates A350-900s should be delivered between 2024 to the end of 2026, or at the beginning of 2027. “Much will depend on delivery streams and what we do with the 777-300ERs that will be retained and refurbished“, he said. Some of those 777s could remain in the fleet as spare aircraft. “The network will grow, there are many places on the planet that we don't fly to and we want to and we will“, he said.

Clark said, the A350-900, a 300-plus seater aircraft in three classes, is the right aircraft to get Emirates to several African points, equally for South and North America routes.

If Emirates is able to reach pre-pandemic levels, it needs also the return of all A380s, which have to be reactivated on the technical side of things. They are sitting in storage for so long. I got 20 to 25 A380s we need to be in the air now, but can’t be due to supply chain. Maybe by the summer of next year, all those A380s will be in the air again.

Sir Tim Clark, President of Emirates Airline

Emirates Reveals an Updated Livery - What's New?

New Destinations

In terms of network, when the A350s are coming in, depending if the 777X is on track, then Emirates will look to new African, European and American destinations with those aircraft. "I have 15 to 20 new destinations which could come immediately to my mind. It is a good airplane, the A350-900“.

Clark said, Emirates is also looking at the 787 family, because the 787-10 has its take-off weight increased, offering range of up to 4.000 nautical miles. “That has brought it back to the performance window that we need for the fleet assessments. This range is good for routes that Emirates serves and those new ones“, Clark said.