There could still be a slot for the Airbus A330neo in Emirates' fleet plan but the focus in the near term is on the A350-900, the airline's president Tim Clark tells FlightGlobal.
He also sees a possibility of revisiting the A350-1000, having previously cancelled an order for the variant.
Emirates announced its order for 50 A350-900s at the Dubai air show on 18 November. Emirates chairman Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum explained that the deal replaced its earlier tentative plan for 30 A350s and 40 A330neos.
Speaking to FlightGlobal at the Dubai air show today, Clark said he thought the A330neo was "a great aeroplane. But when all the planners got involved they thought the A350-900 would be a better bet than the A330-900. What I said was: 'We leave it in the mix and see how that will work for us [in the future].'"
Commenting on Emirates' decision to remove the A330neo from yesterday's announcement, Airbus chief executive Guillaume Faury said: "Emirates has decided to come to terms with a firm contract for 50 A350s. They don't say what's going to happen on the A330… We see for the future."
Clark confirms that the A330neo remains a potential future candidate for Emirates: "We're taking the A350 but that doesn't mean we're knocking out the A330neo. So perhaps in 2023/24 it may enter the mix again, by which time Rolls will have matured the engine and hopefully it will be concern-free."
He adds: "That 20 [orders] are still out there. That could be [Boeing] 787s, could be A330neos, could be A350-1000s."