Emirates Orders 787-9, Reduces 777X Order

Filed Under: Emirates

Emirates has today finalized a purchase agreement with Boeing for some Boeing 787-9s, which also sees them reducing the number of Boeing 777Xs they have on order.

Emirates Substitutes 30 Boeing 777Xs For 787-9s

Emirates and Boeing have today finalized an agreement for the purchase of 30 Boeing 787-9 aircraft, valued at $8.8 billion at list prices (though there are always huge discounts on those amounts). The airline is expected to start taking delivery of these planes in 2023.

Emirates 787-9

In late 2017 Emirates had signed a memorandum of understanding for 40 Boeing 787-10s, though they never decided to execute on that, and are now instead selecting the 787-9.

But there’s a catch. It’s not just that the 787-9 replaces the previous intent to purchase the 787-10, but it actually replaces many of the 777Xs they had to on order.

Emirates is exercising substitution rights from their previous order, and is converting 30 Boeing 777X orders into the 787-9 order.

Emirates 777X

Emirates still remains the world’s largest 777X customer, with a total of 126 airplanes on order (and that’s in addition to them already being the world’s largest 777 operator, as they currently have 155 airplanes).

While the Boeing 777X should have already been in service soon, the plane has been experiencing significant delays, and it’s now expected that it won’t enter service until 2021.

Emirates’ Future Fleet Plans

Emirates has really been all over the place when it comes to new plane orders. In addition to the remaining A380s they’ve had on order, in the past two years the airline has finalized orders or signed memorandums of understandings for the 787-9, 787-10, A330-900neo, A350-900, 777-8, and 777-9.

But now Emirates’ plans are starting to look a bit clearer, as we’ve seen them finalize orders, rather than just sign memorandums of understanding, which don’t mean a whole lot. Just a couple of days ago Emirates finalized their A350 order, and now they’re finalizing their 787 order.

At this point Emirates has finalized orders for:

  • 50 Airbus A350-900s
  • 30 Boeing 787-9s
  • 126 Boeing 777Xs (consisting of both 777-8s and 777-9s)

Emirates A350-900

Now we also know that:

Emirates A330-900neo (which is no longer happening)

Emirates’ Surprising 787-9 Choice

Simplicity has long been a hallmark of the Emirates fleet, with the airline having just A380s and 777s, which are distinctly different planes. 15 years down the road it now seems like Emirates will have 777Xs, 787s, and A350s.

On the surface I find the decision to order both 787-9s and A350-900s interesting, since the two planes are very similar. Lots of airlines split orders, but Emirates has historically been different.

I find it especially interesting that they went with the “intermediate” sized version of each plane, and didn’t select the 787-10 or A350-1000, for example. Admittedly those planes would be closer to being substitutes for the 777X, but still, it does surprise me.

For example, I could have seen Emirates selecting the 787-10 and using that as their new regional plane, since it’s high capacity but not ultra long haul, while they could have used the A350-900 for ultra long hauls.

My guess is that this decision ultimately came down to them getting the best deal. Not only can airlines often get the best deals by splitting orders, but in this case Emirates was able to substitute part of a 777X order, and also presumably with Airbus this was part of the deal for ending A380 production.

Bottom Line

Emirates’ future fleet plans are now firming up, with the airline planning on acquiring 777Xs, 787-9s, and A350-900s in the coming years. While some of the specific decisions might be surprising, I get the general logic here — this probably got them the best deal, especially in light of them substituting part of their 777X order, along with A380 production ending.

What do you make of Emirates’ 787-9 order? 

  1. Must be pain in the a.. to work for emirates as publisher or in general press department…… I can only imagine the vibes beetween fleet operations and press department…..*You changed again the order Bill?….. what type of aircraft is it this time……?….. You will have my rendering by friday*
    How often did Emirates change their fleet development recently?

  2. I don’t get it. Emirates has been very successful with their current two aircraft type fleet, (I do, however, remember the time when they were also operating a330s and a340s along with their 777s and a380s). Why would they decide to switch it up? Is it possible they’re trying to build a regional sub fleet? Maybe they liked Singapore’s idea with their regional 787-10s and wanted to replicate it on the -9? Maybe they want to build a 3-class sub fleet with no first for less premium-heavy routes, and they’ll do that on the 350 or 787? I’m scratching my head on this one.

  3. Are they admitting that their big growth is over? Surprised they didn’t choose the largest versions of the 787 and A350. Future Emirates will be a slimmer operation?

  4. Inevitably a fleet of only A380 and 777 would mean they would struggle to fill the plane for some markets, so ordering some smaller plane is a logical step forward for Emirates. But to order both A350-900 and 787-9 is quite surprising.

    I suppose they got a good discount on the A350s because Airbus was actively trying to discontinue the A380 project. And the 787-9 came with good discount because the 777x program is delayed.

  5. This is all terrible for us Emirates customers. Having just completed the 16hr run from Munich to Perth all A380s, I felt a bit sad to think that won’t be the case in years to come. Easily the most comfortable journey I’ve had in Y.

  6. I’m curious to see the interior configurations of these planes. To now, EK has been fairly consistent across the plane types with only 7(ish…?) configurations across three different models – A380, 77W, and 772. They’re now adding 4 models to their repertoire from two different manufacturers with the planes have potentially very varied ranges/purposes. Now would be a good time to start looking at an all aisle access across their entire biz product.

  7. @Lucky — Your heading “Emirates Substitutes 30 Boeing 777Xs For 787-9s” doesn’t match the story. As I understand it, with “substitute … for … ” the first replaces second; with “substitute … with …” the second replaces first.

    So shouldn’t the heading be “Emirates Substitutes 30 787-9s for Boeing 777Xs”? Cos the 787-9s are replacing the 777Xs, right?

  8. I’m not surprised at all that they didn’t order the -10 or the -1000, their home base is in a very hot climate area and the stretched variants usually operate closer to their power limits. And as we’ve heard in previous interviews they are not happy with ‘modern’ engines’ performance in reality – in contrast to the manufacturers’ promises, so…. Take the one that works for sure instead of believing manufacturers’ marketing departments and ordering an aircraft that might not keep the promises and forces you into permanent operational compromises – that’s what i would do, too!

  9. Wasn’t it just last week you wrote about Tim Clarks comments on other airlines failure to make the A380 work? Yet for quite some time now, we’ve seen EK trend away from ordering the largest planes available. 777X variants can sit quite a few more pax than A350-900s and B787-9s.

  10. Personally I think that Emirates selecting and placing an order for the B787 (any variant) is a big mistake. They should have stuck with the A350’s and the B777X. The 777X as a long term replacement plan for the A380’s. As it is the A380’s are not going anywhere for the next 10+ years with EK. Pilots, Engineers, Technicians training, engineering, spare parts support now for 5 different types of aircraft. Does not seem logical.

  11. Did someone else read between the lines?

    777X will face massive delays and have reliability issues.

    This is merely putting some planes in the 787 pipeline rather than have no planes.

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