Emirates plays off Airbus’ A350 against Boeing’s Dreamliner

Emirates’ head Tim Clark has said the airline will opt for either B787-10s or A350-900s in the next stage of its fleet development.



Airbus and Boeing executives will be busy courting Emirates after its President and CEO Sir Tim Clark said it will order B787-10s or A350-900s in the next stage of its fleet development.

That the latter is still in the frame will be especially heartening to Airbus given Emirates cancelled an order for 70 A350 XWB aircraft last June. That order, for 50 A350-900 and 20 A350-1000, was originally placed by Emirates in 2007.

Speaking at the Arabian Travel Market in Dubai, Clark said: “We’re interested in the Dreamliner now it’s on the market – we’re looking at the B787-10 against the A350–900 to see which will do the job for us. How many we will buy and when, we’ll let you know.”

With its 13,000km range, the B787-10 covers more than 90 per cent of the world’s twin-aisle passenger routes including Europe to US West Coast and trans-Pacific flights. The A350-900 will seat 314 passengers and fly around 15,000km.

Two years ago Emirates ordered 150 Boeing 777X aircraft (35 Boeing 777-8Xs and 115 Boeing 777-9Xs). “The 9X is the much bigger one, that will be able to do 14/15 hour missions and the 8X is the real ‘sweetheart’ as it will fly to the other side of the planet with a good payload,” said Clark.

Clark continued to put pressure on Airbus, however, to develop a more fuel-friendly A380. “It will give us a 10-13 per cent reduction in operating cost, which is already very good. But Airbus has to get past the first hurdle and convince people to buy it in the first place,” he said.

Emirates’ seat factors on its A380s are 82.5 per cent, almost double the profitability per seat km than other aircraft in its fleet, and its double-deck capacity naturally puts other models in the shade.

“If we have to go to a B777-9X aircraft – a great aircraft – we’ll lose a minimum of 100/120 seats (into London). What’s the point? But in the end we have to cut our cloth, Emirates is not going to stop because the A380 isn’t there. It will be here well after I’m not here.”