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Delay in Boeing 777X program forces Emirates to reconsider its fleet plans

Dubai, UAE - Emirates president Tim Clark says that the delivery delay of the Boeing 777X disrupts growth plans of Emirates.

Although Clark does not put into words, Emirates could suspend or reduce 777X orders, or else convert some of them into the smaller 787, sources claim.

The launch operator Emirates has 150 Boeing 777X on order. The Dubai-based carrier expects to receive eight copies next year.

Boeing had to delay the first flight of its groundbreaking next-gen widebody jet due to some issues found with the aircraft's GE9X engine, the largest engine ever produced for an airliner.

The American aircraft manufacturer was also forced to suspend the load testing of the aircraft due to an unexpected explosion during the first test in September this year.

The plane was initially planned to enter into service with Emirates on June 2020. But Clark said that Emirates no longer expects to take delivery of its first 777X before the second quarter of 2021.

That has conditioned everything else. First of all, I want to know when the thing’s going to come. Our fleet plans are very much driven by when these aircraft are going to be delivered to us. The airline’s capacity growth is being held back by the delivery delays and will resume only when I get some visibility on all this,

Emirates boss told on the sidelines of the Airlines 2050 conference in London.

In June, Clark said that Emirates was considering a combination of 777Xs and 787s that may preserve overall numbers, but substitute some jets and defer others, during an interview with the Seattle Times.

The world’s largest long-haul operator is also in talks with the European aircraft manufacturer to finalize an order for 70 Airbus A350XWB jets.

Clark also said during an interview with CNN that he wasn't expecting the 737 MAX to return to service anytime soon.

Perhaps I’m being a bit disingenuous to Boeing, but it’s important that the regulators get this one sorted out,

Clark said, adding that he believes the 737 MAX will fly again sometime in the first quarter of next year.”

Several airlines around the world, including another dubai-based state-owned carrier flydubai, were forced to remove their 737 MAX jets from their flight schedules after the fatal crash of an Ethiopian Airlines 737 MAX 8 in March. The incident was the second fatal crash that the aircraft was involved in less than six months.