Dubai: Emirates on Sunday signed a $15.1 billion (in list prices) commitment to buy 40 Boeing 787-10 Dreamliners.

Related: Dh61.9b in deals signed at Dubai Airshow

Shaikh Ahmad Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, President of Dubai Civil Aviation and Chairman and CEO of Emirates Airline and Group, said the delivery for this aircraft will begin 2020 onwards, “taking the airline into 2030”.

“Some of these will be used to replace the older aircraft which will retire in the next few years,” he said, adding that it will keep Emirates’ fleet “always young”.

The order was signed in the presence of High Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, and Shaikh Hamdan Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Dubai Crown Prince and Chairman of the Dubai Executive Council, on the opening day of the Dubai Airshow.

Commenting on 35 years of partnership between Boeing and Emirates, Kevin McAllister, executive vice president of The Boeing Company and president and chief executive officer of Boeing Commercial Airplanes (BCA), Emirates today is the largest operator of the 777-300 ER, the launch customer of 777X, “and we are happy to have Emirates join the 787 family.” 

“This airplane will open new destinations around the world for Emirates,” McAllister said.

“We see the 787 as a great complement to our 777 and A380 fleet, providing us with more flexibility to serve a range of destinations as we develop our global route network,” added Shaikh Ahmad.

Engine options

Meanwhile, Emirates is still looking at the engine options for this order, Shaikh Ahmad said, while addressing the reporters. “So you can look forward to another announcement very soon,” he said, without divulging any details.

Wide-body fleet

Sunday’s order will take Emirates’ total wide-body aircraft count with Boeing to 204 aircraft worth over $90 billion, Shaikh Ahmad pointed out. Referring to the order as a “long-term commitment” he said it will support hundreds of thousands of jobs not only at Boeing but also internationally.

Echoing his views, Boeing’s McAllister said Emirates’ endorsement of the 787 Dreamliner “will sustain many jobs in the United States”. 

“It has always been Emirates’ strategy to invest in the most advanced and efficient aircraft,” Shaikh Ahmad said, adding that the announcement also speaks “of our confidence in the future of the UAE and the region.”

The order for 787s comes on top of Emirates’ purchase of 150 Boeing 777X aircraft - equipped with GE9X engines - at the 2013 Dubai Air Show, to be delivered from 2020 onwards. 

Sunday’s order comes after a long deliberation period by Emirates over a choice between the 787s and the Airbus A350s. 

A350 order?

Asked of Emirates’ A350 order was now off the table, Shaikh Ahmad did not give a definitive answer, but said: “It’s like we are comparing the two apples. We look at it from a different option also [such as] maintenance and so on,” he said, 
“The 787 will be the best option for Emirates 2022 onwards.”

US-based aviation analyst Ernest S Arvai, chief executive of The Arvai Group, told Gulf News that route dispersion and the use of smaller aircraft between non-hub destinations has hurt the 747 and A380 markets. 

“But as traffic grows and infrastructure doesn't grow proportionately, the need for larger aircraft will come again. The A380 remains competitive, even with 787-10 and 777-9 for routes with the traffic to fill one,” he said.