Will Boeing Be Late to the Races?

Dubai-based airline Emirates is convinced Boeing’s (NYSE:BA) planned upgrade of the wide-body 777 aircrafts will be highly successful, and is urging the Chicago-based company to hurry with an entry into the market. Boeing has been planning to revamp its 777 with new wings and new engines, and may be looking to enter the new crafts into service close to the end of the decade.

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However, Emirates president Tim Clark said Boeing was “nearly there” in terms of what Emirates expected from the new 777. “The 777 and its derivative is of great interest to us because we started taking the 777-300ERs in 2005 and they will start retiring in a 12 year period,” Clark told Reuters Television. “We’ve been working with them for quite a long time and are a little bit exasperated by the time its taking. My view is that a significant number of carriers will sign up for this airplane.”

Clark also had a word of warning for Boeing’s rival Airbus, saying the European aircraft maker must not let its A350 jet program run up development delays similar to those shown by Boeing on its 787. Emirates has 20 A350-1000s jets, each worth $320 million, on order with Airbus.

Airbus pushed back development of the crafts by two years when it decided to overhaul the design last year, with the new schedule only putting them in service in mid-2017. “Well, I’m just saying we are watching it very closely … we can’t afford a three year delay on this,” Clark said.

Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways has cut its order of the A350-1000s by half over a period of four months, dropping to 12 in April from 25 in November. Since Airbus updated its design with a bigger Rolls-Royce engine last June, it has not received a new order. Boeing, on the other hand, has seen record orders for its wide-body 777.

“It’s up to them (Airbus) to deliver the airplane to the specification that we have contracted … and that’s what we continue to watch,” Clark said.

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