What is Emirates’ Boeing 787 Dreamliner plan following its giant A350 order?

Nov 20, 2019

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As one of the world’s largest airlines, and with an exclusively wide-body fleet, Emirates has a tremendous impact on the success of aircraft programmes — at Airbus and Boeing alike.

So, following the carrier’s giant order for 50 Airbus A350-900s on Monday, much of the Dubai Air Show buzz has focused on the fate of Emirates’ 2017 plan to add 40 Boeing 787-10 Dreamliners to the fleet — an order worth some $15 billion at the time — with deliveries expected to start in 2022.

Tuesday, I went straight to the source, posing the Dreamliner question directly to Emirates President Sir Tim Clark. Simply put, the carrier is still undecided, but it seems likely that Emirates won’t move forward with the original plan to add Boeing’s longest Dreamliner, the 787-10.

Emirates President Sir Tim Clark at the 2019 Dubai Air Show. Photo by Zach Honig/The Points Guy.
Emirates President Sir Tim Clark at the 2019 Dubai Air Show. (Photo by Zach Honig/The Points Guy)

Instead, Clark explained that Emirates’ order will likely change, saying: “We’re kind of moving our thinking towards the [787]-9. The A350-900 is more of a [787-10] in its inventory offering, so we’ll probably go with the [787]-9.”

With a standard two-class configuration, the largest Dreamliner, the 787-10, can accommodate 336 passengers, according to Boeing, with a 7,300-mile range. The seat count puts it right in the middle of Airbus’ suggested 300-350 capacity for the A350-900, which offers a superior 9,320-mile range, enabling nonstop service from Emirates’ Dubai (DXB) hub to the West Coast of the United States — which couldn’t be reached by the 787-10.

The 787-9, meanwhile, fits 296 in a standard two-cabin arrangement, with an 8,665-mile range. While the longer (but shorter-range) -10 can handle most of Emirates’ routes, the carrier seems to be after an aircraft with a bit less capacity, since it now has so many A350-900s on the way — it probably doesn’t hurt that the 787-9 is far more versatile, too.

Ultimately, while the 787-10 is likely out, the good news for Boeing is that Emirates seems to have a need for some Dreamliner variant — for the time being, at least.

Featured photo of Boeing’s special “Dreams Take Flight” 787-9 at the Dubai Air Show by Zach Honig/The Points Guy.

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