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Emirates explores more long-haul jets amid rising demand 

Emirates Airline president Tim Clark says the cost of sustainable fuels in prohibitive Reuters/Abdel Hadi Ramahi
The demand for Emirates services continues to outpace its ability to get the capacity in place, says Tim Clark

Dubai-based Emirates plans to order more Airbus A350, Boeing 777X or 787 jetliners as it seeks to expand its fleet amid soaring demand and growing competition in the region.

“We are looking at both more A350s, more 777-9 and possibly the 787 range,” airline president Tim Clark told reporters on the sidelines of the International Air Transport Association (Iata) conference in Istanbul, without giving the order size.

“All I will say is that we are looking at buying several extra aircraft,” Reuters quoted him as saying. 

In 2019, Emirates slashed its order for 150 777X to 126 jets as part of an agreement that saw the airline order 30 787 Dreamliners.

Clark said the carrier expected to receive Boeing’s new aircraft in the last quarter of 2025.

Boeing recently said 777X was “on track to be certified and delivered in 2025”.

Emirates last month recorded the most profitable 12 months in its 38-year history. The carrier reported a profit of AED10.6 billion ($2.9 billion) for its most recent financial year, a turnaround from a loss of AED3.9 billion in the previous financial year.

The airline carried 43.6 million passengers in the last year, a year-on-year increase of 123 percent.

The demand for Emirates services continues to outpace its ability to get the capacity in place, Clark said, adding the results of the first two months of 2023 have “already exceeded last year”.

The progress in expansion of the long-delayed Dubai’s Al Maktoum International will drive Emirates to move operations, he said.

“On the new airport, I think the government is fairly close to making a decision very soon,” Clark stated.

Emirates preferred the expansion to be completed by 2032 or 2033, he said.

The expansion of Al Maktoum International to handle 120 million passengers a year by 2025 has been delayed since 2018.

Emirates currently operates from a dedicated terminal at Dubai International.  

The airline flies to 150 destinations across six continents using a fleet of 260 aircraft. The wider group employs 102,379 employees, a year-on-year increase of 20 percent. 

Clark’s comments come amidst growing competition in the Gulf aviation sector.

Saudi Arabia’s new airline Riyadh Air said this week it is also in talks with Airbus and Boeing to buy a significant number of narrow-body jets, CEO Tony Douglas said.

The creation of a second Saudi national airline, with industry veteran Douglas as its CEO, was announced alongside an order for up to 72 Boeing 787s in March, as the kingdom moves to diversify its economy and serve over 100 destinations by 2030.

Interviewed on the sidelines of the Iata meeting this week, Douglas declined to give the size of the planned follow-up order for narrowbody jets but told Reuters: “It’s not going to be insignificant by any stretch of the imagination.”

He added: “That might not be our last order either.”

Bloomberg News reported last week that Boeing was working on a deal to sell at least 150 Boeing 737 MAX jets to Riyadh Air.