Emirates Boeing 787-10 — Order Canceled?

Filed Under: Emirates

Update: Emirates no longer plans on ordering the 787-10, but rather has finalized an order for 30 787-9s.

It sure is an interesting time at Emirates. The Dubai-based airline is known for their simple fleet consisting of just Airbus A380s and Boeing 777s, but this will be complicated over the coming years.

Emirates has been incredibly successful using the A380 to scale their operations unlike any other airline. The problem is that they seem to be the only airline that likes the plane, and they realize they can’t singlehandedly support the production of it long term.

Emirates A380

Earlier this year we learned that A380 production will end in 2021. Emirates has 109 A380s in their fleet, and plans to take delivery of 14 more over the next couple of years.

Emirates’ general fleet plans

Emirates is in a unique situation because they’ve taken delivery of all of their “current generation” 777 aircraft, and only have 14 more A380s on order. Beyond that, Emirates has:

  • 35 Boeing 777-8s on order
  • 115 Boeing 777-9s on order
  • 40 Airbus A330-900neos on order
  • 30 Airbus A350-900s on order
  • 40 Boeing 787-10s on order

For an airline that previously had such a simple fleet, that sure is quite a complex strategy going forward.

The way I viewed it:

  • The 777-8 and 777-9 order made sense, since this will help them keep their 777 fleet fresh
  • The A330-900neo and A350-900 order was part of a deal with Airbus that saw them otherwise canceling their A380 order (though frankly I’m surprised they chose both the A330-900neo and A350-900, since the aircraft are similar capacity-wise)
  • That leaves the Boeing 787-10, which seemed like an odd option; it’s not a terribly long range plane, so I guess the intention was to use it for fairly short flights

Emirates appears to have canceled their 787-10 order

For a couple of months now there have been rumors that Emirates was considering canceling their 787-10 order.

A couple of days ago I wrote about Emirates’ performance in the past fiscal year, and it’s interesting to note that their annual report no longer indicates an order for a 787-10. To me this sure suggests that Emirates has indeed canceled their 787-10 order.

It’s pretty clear they’re trying to be hush-hush about this, which suggests to me that they might still be working the details out with Boeing. In other words, will they order more 777s in place of this, or what’s going on?

Are you surprised to see that Emirates seems to have canceled their 787-10 order?

  1. Isn’t it also because the 787 may not perform well in the hot and warm weather in Dubai?

  2. It always appeared as if Emirates only placed the order to help Boeing boost 787-10 sales at the time. I seem to recall that they were struggling back in 2017 and the Dubai Air Show gave a much needed boost to the -10 program. I wouldn’t be surprised if Emirates back tracks on their giant 777X order and tries to pull the same deal they got with Airbus between the A380 and A350/A330neo programs. 25 to 40 787-9s (-10 doesn’t make sense in their fleet, imho) combined with 75-100 777Xs might be the smart option until Sir Tim Clark leaves. Maybe Emirates is starting to realise their mistakes and quickly correcting. Their fleet team is probably applying to new jobs but realising that no one in their right mind would take them in now after this blunder!

  3. It was never a firm contracted order and never appeared on Boeing’s books, so you can’t really say they “cancelled the order”. More like they cancelled plans for formally ordering the type, which was fairly apparent when they ordered the A330 and A350.

  4. The primary difference between the A330-900neo and the A350-900 is range. The 359 has around 900 nmi more range than the 339. It does seem odd for Emirates to add the 787-10, 339, and 359, though. It would certainly give them a lot more flexibility to fly to smaller markets than just A380s and 777s, but it seems like the extra costs of operating different types might outweigh the flexibility of having the 787-10, 339, and 359. I can see operating 2 of those types for flexibility, but all 3 seems like overkill for types with such similar capacity. The primary distinguishing factor between all three of them is just range.

  5. I guess with the “neo” they wanted to hedge their bets, given that all these new engines appear to be rather unreliable and Emirates wanted to avoid having lots of planes out of action. As for the 787-10, I don’t feel it fits them, unless they want to use them for short haul around the Middle East, India and East Africa. I could see them replacing the 787 order with more A330s.

  6. “The 787-10…it’s not a terribly long range plane, so I guess the intention was to use it for fairly short flights”

    With a range of 6400 nm, the -10 is able to reach anywhere in Europe, Africa, and Asia from Dubai, as well as to the East Coast of the US and to Australia from the West Coast to Melbourne. United Airlines has already flown a revenue flight from Wash. DC to Beijing as an example of its effective range.

    As a double stretch made of carbon fiber, the -10 should have the lowest seat mile costs of any current aircraft in its size class. Emirates must have gotten some good financial incentives from Airbus as it dropped many of its remaining A380 orders in order to offset the likely lower operating cost of the 787.

  7. Since the 787 order was never finalized, it wasn’t really to be called a “cancelled” order. Additionally, the 787 engines are not too suitable for the hot Dubai weather, if I am not mistaken.
    The A330neo and the A350 orders in the other hand, are pretty much a compensation over the cancelled A380 orders.
    They might order more 777X to replace the A380 within the next couple of years, but I’m not too sure.

  8. @Bob Etihad & Oman Air seems to be doing fine with theirs, and I think they operate in similar conditions.

  9. Unsure why people are saying the 787 can’t operate in Dubai’s heat. The Trent 1000 and Trent XWB are *very* similar engines, so if the 787 had problems so would the A350.

  10. I thought that it was “if it ain’t Boeing I ain’t going.”

    I don’t think this is odd. They’re just straightening out their future aircraft. Okay, so now we know they won’t have a bacchanal if planes.

  11. @Abe It has been adapted and changed by some people after the MAX disaster.

    I think the 787 comittment was just a barganing tactic to get the A330neo and A350 cheaper. They’ve virtually replaced the original order for A350s as there are 70 and the original order was for 70 aircraft. For economy passengers, this is good news as you won’t be squished onto a 787 that has a seating configuration that the plane wasn’t designed for.

    Also ordering the A330neo and A350 was a good idea as they’re both suited to different markets and have a common type rating whereas the 787 underperforms on short flights. That’s why no-one operates it on short flights.

  12. Expect this will translate into more 777 orders – as she have pointed out the order never actually went on Boeing’s books, and Emirates was a bit stuck in terms of types when they had to cancel their A380 orders – those WERE signed for and had to be replaced so Airbus got a ‘backdoor’ victory here.

  13. @ Greg and JKT

    Scott Hamilton at Leeham News and Analysis says:
    “The long and the short of it is, the 787’s engines are too small for the very hot environment centered in Dubai.”

    I find Scoot and Bjorn from Leeham News and Analysis rarely wrong in their analysis.

    This maybe add why Emirates is more efficient (in profits) than their competitors in the middle east, with making the correct choice of fleet.

    This can be read here (written the 4th of february this year):

  14. Rather off topic, but what will be much more interesting to me is who blinks first out of the majors and cancels their MAX order…I think that if just one of the large airlines cancels, many others will follow…

  15. Last month Emirates CEO M Al Maktoum told CNBC”“We have always to follow what the customer wants, not to offer what we like,” so i guess their customers prefer to fly on Airbus aircrafts at the moment and since there was no definite and official order for the 787 Boeing aircrafts.

  16. @Caroline,

    I highly doubt that. Customers often don’t know what aircraft they are flying on until they board, and no one but a few extreme blog commenters have questioned Boeing’s safety record in general.

    In fact, in terms of widebodies, the crash figures paint a radically different story, with the 777 having far less passenger fatalities than the A330, so I don’t think the MAX disaster has factored in at all to this decision.

  17. Thanks for getting me to look it up – the 787-10s are made in South Carolina, union-busting state that can more easily pressure workers out of quality control complaints. I don’t believe I will fly them myself, either.

  18. @Kerry “In fact, in terms of widebodies, the crash figures paint a radically different story, with the 777 having far less passenger fatalities than the A330, so I don’t think the MAX disaster has factored in at all to this decision.”

    Actually, that’s not correct. According to Boeing’s own studies in late 2018, the A330 and 777 have almost exactly the same safety rating/accident rate. As well, 777 crashes have also killed more people than A330 crashes in total throughout the history of both models.

  19. @Rob “As well, 777 crashes have also killed more people than A330 crashes in total throughout the history of both models.”
    – Seriously? All 777 fatalities are coming from MH17 (crashed after being hit in mid air over Ukraine by an anti-aircraft missile), MH370, and 3 people who died during Asiana landing (numerous pilot errors).

  20. I think this is what Emirates have on their mind:
    A339 and A359: acting as A332 and A343, 345
    777X: acting as the current ones
    And for A380, they want A380neo but Airbus gives no response. Emirates stated elsewhere that it will be difficult for them without the A380.
    And since they will have A330s and A350s, they might not need the 787s anymore.

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