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Emirates Aims Big With Mega Airshow Orders

Emirates Aims Big With Mega Airshow Orders

Emirates was the chief noisemaker at the recently concluded Farnborough International Airshow, confirming its ambition to be a long haul leader.

It was a statement-making appearance for Dubai carrier Emirates at Farnborough this year as it made clear its ambition to vie for the top spot in the global airline stakes. At the start of the show, American aircraft maker Boeing and Emirates revealed that two had finalised an order for 150 777Xs, valued at $56 billion at list prices.

Emirates had placed the order at the Dubai Airshow last November where the 777X program was first unveiled, part of what Boeing calls the largest product launch in commercial jetliner history. In addition to the 150 jets, Emirates has reserved purchase rights to order for 50 more.

The 777X announcement comes not long after Emirates cancelled its order of 70 A350 XWB aircraft from Airbus, the European aircraft maker. Emirates originally placed the order in 2007, with first delivery slots scheduled from 2019.

However, Airbus still has the order to supply Emirates with 50 A380 superjumbo planes, an agreement worth $23 billion signed last year at the Dubai Airshow.

Given that Emirates has canceled the A350 order, many experts believe that the airline will exercise the option to order 50 more of the 777Xs, which Boeing claims will be “the largest and most-efficient twin engine jet in the world.”

Simon Elsegood, senior analyst (Middle East & Africa) at aviation intelligence firm CAPA – Centre for Aviation, said that the new 777Xs will be used for a combination of fleet growth and replacement of older types.

“Emirates existing 777 orders are due to complete delivery in 2019 and the carrier has historically been fairly aggressive with retirements, keeping its average fleet age at about six and a half years,” he said.

“The 777Xs are a little larger, more fuel efficient and slightly longer ranged than the current generation 777 aircraft, which is what it will primarily replace in Emirates’ fleet.”

According to Elsegood, the 777X will also have certain advantages over the A380 in terms of fuel efficiency and ability to access airports that aren’t certified for the big Airbus jet.

“The aircraft will also be Emirates’ tool of choice for long-haul and ultra-long haul routes. It will be particularly suited to flights of 12 hours and beyond,” he said, adding however that he would expect Emirates to continue a flexible deployment strategy.

He pointed out that Emirates’ current generation 777s operate everything from one-hour intra-regional flights (such as Bahrain and Doha) in high-density configurations, to 16-hour flights to Dallas.

Vikram Krishnan, partner, aviation practice at Washington D.C-based management consulting firm Oliver Wyman, said that the decision to cancel the A350 order and go for Boeing’s 777Xs fits right in with the carrier’s long term strategy.

“Given Emirates’ hub-and-spoke structure and global network, they’ve historically preferred larger aircraft, so their interest is in larger gauge aircraft to achieve a lower cost per available seat kilometer.

“Emirates’ hub in Dubai is at the crossroads of the fastest growing trade and consequently passenger and cargo flows. The intent here is to connect most of the world’s major demand lanes via at most one-stop over Dubai,” he added.

According to Elsegood, the A350 order was dropped after a strategic fleet review. “When Emirates ordered the A350s, the 787-10 and 777X programmes didn’t exist and the, 787-8 and 787-9 were too small.”

He pointed out that Emirates had planned to primarily deploy the A350s on routes of 10 to 12 hours flying time – a role that he believes the 777X will now take as well.

“Emirates has been increasing average aircraft size to help overcome congestion issues at Dubai and similarly restricted airports,” he said.

In the deployment of these new aircraft, Krishnan does not see any one regionto seee disproportional aircraft deployment “Emirates wants to grow all over the world where there is demand for its product.”

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