Emirates is working closely with Boeing on its 777-300ER successor development effort, and indicates it could become the launch customer if the airframer decides to give the programme the go-ahead.

But the Dubai-based airline is also waiting to meet with Airbus, to begin discussions about its dissatisfaction with the changes to the A350-1000 disclosed at the Paris air show in June.

"There's a lot of work going on [at Boeing on the new 777], and we're involved in it," Emirates Airline's president Tim Clark went on to add.

Clark added that Boeing is getting "ready to rock and roll", and if the new aircraft meets Emirates' needs then it could sign up as a launch customer.

Emirates is a major 777-300ER customer, with over 100 of the General Electric GE90-115-powered variant in service or on order, as well as 10 of the -200LR "shrink" type.

Clark did not divulge details of Boeing's 777 successor studies, but said that Emirates' requirement would be for a twinjet capable of flying a 50-tonne payload - by its rules - between Dubai and Los Angeles.

Today the airline operates a 777-300ER on the route, with a payload of around 35-37 tonnes. "So I'm not carrying any cargo and have a 20-seat payload ­penalty," said Clark. "They've got to look at the weight, the wing and at propulsion to get an SFC [specific fuel consumption] reduction," he added.

"[GE Aviation president] David Joyce has got a lot up his sleeve for the new GE90-115. He's definitely going to give us something on that." Clark speculated that to have "a fighting chance" of ­eventually creating the aircraft Emirates wants, Boeing would need to ­reduce the empty weight by at least 5-8 tonnes, perhaps even as far as anything up to about 10 tonnes.

Source: Flight International