Emirates Wants To Retrofit 777-300ER Fleet At Boeing’s Expense

By Spyros Georgilidakis | June 5, 2024

Boeing’s 777X certification delays are forcing launch customer Emirates to retrofit its 777-300ER fleet. And it wants compensation for that.

With much of the aviation world’s attention on the 737 MAX crisis, Emirates president Tim Clark recently commented that Boeing has diverted resources away from the 777X program, once again slowing down its certification.

Rendering of an Emirates 777-9. Image: Emirates

Originally, Emirates was expecting to take delivery of its first 777-9 in 2020. At the launch of the 777X Boeing actually aimed at 2019 for the plane’s first delivery to then-launch customer Lufthansa.

Because of these mounting delays, Emirates had previously decided to extend the use of its 777-300ER fleet, with an extensive cabin retrofit. Last month, the company added another 28 777s to this plan.

Emirates Wants To Retrofit 777-300ER Fleet At Boeing’s Expense
An Emirates 777-300ER. Photo: Unleashed Agency

Emirates 777-300ER Retrofit – A Costly Temporary Move?

Emirates currently operates 143 777s, of which 122 are 777-300ERs. But the airline has orders for 170 777-9s, plus 35 of the slightly smaller 777-8. Emirates depends on large widebodies, to make the best use of its single hub in Dubai. It has no single-aisle aircraft.

Emirates Wants To Retrofit 777-300ER Fleet At Boeing’s Expense
Photo: Imso Gabriel

Now, it seems that the Emirates president wants Boeing to pay for its 777-300ER retrofit. It is not clear how much this retrofit would cost, with airline-specific requirements making related costs vary considerably.

Clark added that he still doesn’t have a definitive delivery date for the airline’s first 777-9s. Interestingly, he also revealed that he has never met Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun in person, but plans to meet recently-appointed Boeing Commercial Airplanes CEO Stephanie Pope.

Emirates has also ordered the Airbus A350-900. Image: Airbus

Boeing has not commented on the possibility of paying to retrofit the 777-300ER fleet of Emirates. The manufacturer has previously offered to swap 777X orders for the smaller 787 – whose deliveries also faced delays in previous years.

And in any case, Emirates’ network needs bigger aircraft. Emirates is also expecting deliveries of Airbus A350-900 widebodies. The airline would have preferred the even bigger A350-1000. But Clark stopped short of ordering that jet, because of doubts over the service requirements of its Rolls-Royce Trent XWB engines.


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