Emirates Airline chairman HH Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum yesterday announced the largest ever order in the history of the Boeing 777 program. The estimated $9.7 billion contract calls for delivery of 42 airplanes in all–24 GE90-powered B777-300ERs, 10 777-200LRs and eight 777 Freighters. It also grants Emirates “purchase rights” for another twenty 777s.
The gravity of the announcement became immediately apparent when Dubai’s ruler, HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, arrived to offer his support for the deal. The event also marked James McNerney’s first international airshow appearance as Boeing’s new chairman, president and CEO.
Sheikh Ahmed said his airline would use the airplanes to extend and strengthen routes to key cities in Europe and Asia, and use the 9,450-nm-range 777-200LRs to fly new routes to the West Coast of the U.S. and South America. He insisted the purchase does not hold any underlying implications for the airline’s Airbus A340 fleet, which now flies long-range city pairs such as Dubai-New York.
A350/787 Decision Can Wait
And he also reserved any judgment on the flagcarrier’s support for the new Boeing 787 and Airbus A350 programs. “In due course, when we are ready and are confident, we will make our decision,” he said. We would have to be about 100 percent sure…We really don’t have fixed time frame.”
On the recent controversy surrounding allegations from Qantas and the Australian government of unfair subsidies to Emirates by the UAE government, Sheikh Ahmed spoke in much more certain terms. “Our accounts are audited by an international company; they can come any time to look at our books,” he said. “But they then have to let us look at theirs…I think it is just jealousy.”