Boeing and Emirates have kicked off the Dubai Airshow with a surprise commitment for 40 787-10 Dreamliners and related equipment listing at $US15.1 billion.
Emirates, the world’s biggest operator of the Boeing 777 and launch customer for the 777X in 2020, said the 787-10 order brings its commitment for Boeing widebody aircraft to 204.
The order comes as profitability at the Emirates Group rebounded from last year’s low and saw the Gulf company last week post a 77 per cent increase in its half-yearly result to $US631 million.
The airline group attributed the 2017-18 interim profit jump to a combination of capacity optimization and efficiency initiatives, steady business growth and a more favorable foreign exchange situation compared to the same period last year.
The biggest version of the B787 will be delivered to Emirates from 2022 and officials say it would take the airline into the 2030s.
Although the parties valued the deal at $US15.1bn, airlines never pay list prices and Emirates would have negotiated a significant discount for an order this size.
“Some of these will be replacements so that we maintain a young and efficient fleet, and others will power our future network growth. Emirates chief executive Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum said in a statement.
“We see the 787 as a great complement to our 777 and A380 fleet, providing us with more flexibility to serve a range of destinations as we develop our global route network.”
“It has always been Emirates’ strategy to invest in the most advanced and efficient aircraft, and today’s orders reflect that. Today’s announcement also speaks to our confidence in the future of aviation in the UAE and the region.”
Speculation about aircraft orders in Dubai had centered on a deal for up to 36 additional Airbus A380s. Emirates is also the biggest operator of the European superjumbo and recently took its 100th aircraft.
Asked on Sunday about another order during the show, Emirates president Tim Clark told reporters: “Watch this space”.
Still, the 787 deal will leave a sour taste at Airbus. Emirates in 2014 killed an order for 70 A350s valued at $US16bn in what was one of the industry’s biggest cancellations. It has since been evaluating the competing aircraft types.
The 787-10 is a 5.5m stretch on the 787-9 and is designed to carry 330 passengers in a nominal two-class configuration. It does not have the smaller plane’s range but it will be able to service most Emirates’ destinations with what Boeing describes as “unprecedented efficiency”.
“This is an airplane that will set a new benchmark for operating economics in the commercial aviation industry when it enters service next year,” said Boeing Commercial Airplanes president Kevin McAllister. “Emirates’ endorsement of the 787 Dreamliner extends our long-standing partnership and will sustain many jobs in the United States.”
The Emirates commitment pushes the total number of new 787 orders and commitments this year to more than 180 and boosts B787-10 orders and commitments to 210. The new plane will enter service next year with Singapore Airlines.
Despite initial setbacks, Boeing has delivered more than 600 787s since 2011 and estimates the type has flown more than 200 million passengers while saving over 19 billion pounds of fuel.
The Emirates order came as Azerbaijan Airlines announced an order for five more 787-8 Dreamliners and a commitment to purchase two large freighters. The agreement is valued at about $US1.9 billion at current list prices.