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Emirates pushes Boeing on 777 replacement plan

Emirates is pushing Boeing to move forward with plans for a 777-300ER successor after snubbing the 787 in favour of the Airbus A350 XWB at last week’s Dubai air show.

The 120-strong A350 deal comprises 70 firm orders (50 A350-900s and 20 -1000s) for delivery from 2014, plus 50 options. The majority of the firmly ordered A350s will replace older A330/A340s and 777 Classics, and there is still a longer term requirement where Boeing could compete with a 777 derivative.

Emirates Airline president Tim Clark says that while there could still be an opening at the airline for the 787-10 if it gets the go-ahead, his focus is on a 777-300ER replacement: “We are aware of the enhancements being studied, but are pushing them to produce a new -300ER – the same size etc - but with 787 technology and design. It would be a world beater.”

Although Boeing is coming under increasing pressure to firm up plans for a 777-300ER replacement, the path it will take and the timing of such a development is fuzzy.

“This explains why I made 20 A350-1000s part of our order,” says Clark.

Meanwhile the Emirates chief 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 787 flight testing 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”.

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