Key Points:

  • Emirates has revised its Boeing 787 orders, opting for 15 upgraded 787-10s and 20 787-8s, increasing the total commitment to 35 aircraft.

  • The decision was influenced by Boeing’s recent enhancements to the 787-10, offering extended range and payload capacity.

  • Tim Clark, Emirates' President, highlighted the versatility of the upgraded 787-10, capable of serving 85% of the carrier's city-pair routes.

Revised Fleet Strategy and Enhanced Capabilities

Emirates, the Dubai-based airline, has recently shifted its approach regarding its Boeing 787 orders. Initially, in 2017, Emirates planned to incorporate 40 787-10s into its fleet. However, in a strategic move two years later, the airline revised its order to include 30 of the slightly smaller 787-9s, in exchange for some of its 777X orders. This change in strategy was unveiled at this year's Dubai air show, where Emirates disclosed its decision to increase its Boeing 787 commitment to a total of 35 aircraft. This new order includes a mix of 15 787-10s and 20 787-8s.

President Tim Clark, speaking at the air show, shed light on the recent changes, noting that the airline had adjusted its order by not only increasing the number of 787s but also by altering the composition of the models. Clark emphasized the significance of Boeing's improvement in the take-off weight of the 787-10 variant. He stated, "The enhancement means it’s far more versatile on our network," indicating the expanded operational capabilities of the new variant.

Technological Advancements and Operational Flexibility

Boeing's recent advancements in the 787-10 have been a pivotal factor in Emirates' decision. Earlier this year, Boeing announced a significant upgrade to the 787-10, which included an additional 430nm of range and a 6.4t increase in payload capacity. These enhancements render the 787-10 a more versatile and efficient option for airlines. Clark pointed out that with these improvements, the 787-10 would be capable of serving up to 85% of the city-pairs Emirates operates between. He mentioned, "It’ll do Perth at a stretch – not that we would do it. But anything up to 8h, I think the aircraft is good to go."

The seating capacity of the upgraded 787-10 is also noteworthy, as Clark mentioned it being "not dissimilar" to the Airbus A350-900 when configured in a three-class layout. While Emirates has not specified a delivery date for these 787s, the enhancements are expected to significantly bolster their operational efficiency and route flexibility.

Broader Impact and Industry Developments

Boeing's upgrade is not limited to the 787-10; the 787-9 variant is also undergoing enhancements, which include an additional 310nm range and a 4.6t increase in payload capacity. A spokesperson from Boeing highlighted the company's continuous efforts to add value for customers, stating, "We are developing an increased maximum take-off weight plan for the 787-9 and 787-10 that will offer even greater efficiency, flexibility, and capability."

In related developments, Flydubai, a partner carrier of Emirates, announced at the air show its acquisition of 30 787-9s. This marks a significant step for Flydubai, transitioning to widebody aircraft after predominantly operating 737s. This collective move by Emirates and its partner airline underscores a broader trend in the industry towards more efficient, versatile aircraft capable of expanding operational boundaries and enhancing passenger experience.