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.
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 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)
Now we also know that:
- Emirates will no longer acquire the 40 Boeing 787-10s, as they intended to in late 2017
- Emirates will no longer acquire 40 A330-900neos, as they intended to in early 2019
- Emirates did in fact renegotiate their 777X order, as has been rumored for a while
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.
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?