The Middle East’s most well known carrier, Emirates, has for a long time been looking to find a new smaller widebody aircraft. The airline operated A330s and A340s up until recently. For the past years, the airline has been in talks with Airbus and Boeing about replacing these aircraft with smaller, medium sized widebodies. The process has been so drawn out, that it even has an entry in the Wikipedia page for Emirate’s fleet. Well, according to an article by the Charleston Post & Courier, it seems that Boeing has won this battle.
Emirates Ordering the 787
If Emirates does decide to order the 787, it means a major victory over Airbus. Emirates is known to purchase huge numbers of aircraft (they placed an order for 150 777X a few years ago). We should expect the order for 787s to be quite substantial, maybe in the 50s or higher. The airline could well order a mix of 787 variants in order to expand their market reach. Maybe, Emirates could use these to begin flying to smaller destinations where the 777s and A380s cannot feasibly serve.
The development comes at an interesting time. Most Middle East Big 3 carriers are finding themselves in a tough economic position. Emirates is the only carrier to mass operate the A380, and I am starting to think that their huge order gamble is not paying off as well as they expected. With the economics not working out, Emirates may be looking to offload some of the A380s. Upon doing this, they would need to reposition 777s to take over those routes. Enter here the 787, where they could take out 777s from thin routes, and put a 787 in its place. The next curious piece in this puzzle is the near merger of flyDubai and Emirates. The two airlines have announced a thorough codesharing and frequent flyer partnership. This means that some of the 787s may even be passed over to flyDubai. If this were to happen, we could see flyDubai operating some of the regional routes, while Emirates focuses on longer haul flights.
What can we expect from the 787?
If Emirates does pick the 787, I would love to see the airline add a truly competitive business class hard product on them. Seats with direct aisle access would be a great asset to the company’s excellent soft product. The airline only offers this kind of seat on their A380s. The 787s cold allow the airline to increase frequencies on thin routes, such as DXB-FLL, or DXB-MCO. I would love to see the airline add flights to more destinations as well. Their long announced but never fulfilled flight to Panama City could benefit from the 787. We could even see flights added to the US and to other parts of Europe.
I am ecstatic to hear that Emirates is finally picking a medium sized widebody. The airline ahs been in need of this aircraft for a while and they seem to have made a decision. The airiline will probably not wait to announce until the 2019 Dubai Airshow because of delivery concerns. We can expect the announcement to be held sooner, maybe even sooner than the 2017 Dubai Airshow. I am honestly happy to see they chose the 787, as I believe the aircraft to be more versatile than the A350. The 787 and A350 are great aircraft, but in terms of operations, I vote 787. I can’t wait to hear the official announcement. Until then, this is mostly speculative. Either way, Emirates will finally have an aircraft to fit a large niche in their operations. I can’t wait to see how the airline continues to innovate.
What do you think? Will Emirates pick the 787? Where will they fly their newest medium sized widebody? Will they open up new routes or simply retire their older aircraft? Let us know!
All images from Wikipedia unless noted.