Emirates has left the door open to potential future orders with Boeing for its 747-8I and proposed "777X" enhanced, despite the major deal at the Dubai air show for up to 120 Airbus A350 XWBs. The A350 deal, which comprises 70 firm orders and 50 options for delivery from 2014, came after a long evaluation that also included Boeing's proposed 787-10 stretch. However, Emirates Airline president Tim Clark says that the majority of the firmly ordered XWBs will be used for replacement of older aircraft, and there is still a longer-term requirement where Boeing could compete with the improved 777 derivative that it is studying.
"Fifty-eight of the 70 firm A350 orders are replacements for our A330s, A340-300s, 777-200s, and 777-300 Classics," says Clark. "It does not address the retirement of our 777-300ERs post-2016 and we continue to press Boeing for a replacement for those aircraft, despite the A350 order."
Boeing Commercial Airplanes chief executive Scott Carson concedes that the 787 lost out to the A350 "because we didn't have the airplane they wanted this time", but adds that the airframer is "competing aggressively" to sell the airline the 747-8I passenger model.
Clark says that despite increasing its A380 orders to 58 aircraft during the show, the 747-8I is still under evaluation. "It is not off our radar, just pushed back a bit," he says.
He adds that he is inclined to wait until the 747-8's General Electric GEnx engine has been seen performing in the 787 flight-test programme before pursuing any order, and given the current delays on that programme he expects that "it will be summer 2008 before we see what happens".