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Emirates chairman ‘not happy’ with Boeing delays

People, Person, Adult Dubai Integrated Economic Zones Authority
Emirates' order for 205 Boeing 777X jets was originally due to be delivered four years ago

Emirates chairman Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum has called on Boeing’s new management to address technical issues with the 777X widebody aircraft as a matter of urgency, admitting that he was “not happy” with the US planemaker.

The flight operator has an order for 205 of the jets which were originally due to be delivered four years ago. It is the largest buyer of the aircraft, which can carry around 400 passengers.

“People ask me, are you happy? I’m not happy,” Sheikh Ahmed said when asked about the ongoing delays at the Arabian Travel Market show in Dubai.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in February said Boeing must make “profound improvements” and address quality issues after a panel blew out of a 737 Max 9 aircraft, believed to have been caused by missing bolts.

It followed a previous crisis over two fatal crashes which saw the Max grounded in 2019 for 20 months, including the 777X.

The FAA on Tuesday announced a new safety investigation into the aircraft manufacturer to see whether employees may have tampered with documents during inspections of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner.

Boeing president and CEO Dave Calhoun announced in March plans to step down at the end of 2024 as part of a wider management team reshuffle.

“I hope that the new management will put all the effort in to fix the deliveries of the new aircraft,” said Sheikh Ahmed, who revealed he has met with senior figures from Boeing and has been assured they would “do their best” to get deliveries on track.

The 777X, the world’s largest twin-engined jet, is due to receive certification to fly in the first quarter of 2025.

“There’s been so much delay,” Sheikh Ahmed said. “Until I see that certification announced, and then I think the whole world will know about it.”

As a result of the delay Emirates is upgrading the interiors of older planes in a bid to extend their lifetime.

Emirates operates 249 passenger aircraft which includes 123 777-300ER jets and 10 777-200LR planes.

Flydubai’s chief executive Ghaith Al Ghaith on Monday said he is also closely monitoring Boeing’s response to the string of safety scandals. Flydubai’s fleet encompasses 86 Boeing 737 aircraft including two new ones acquired this year.

Change of base

Emirates Airline will be moving from its home at Dubai International Airport to a newly developed Al Maktoum International Airport (DWC) in one fell swoop once development is complete in 2034, according to the carrier’s chairman.

The $35 billion investment in DWC, announced last month, will make it one of the largest airport projects in the world. It will have four additional runways, with capacity for 260 million passengers.

“It will be in one go. I think you will wake up one day and say, ‘OK, the terminal is open, tested, everything’. You will see your flights, everything from Dubai to Al Maktoum,” Sheikh Ahmed said.

He said he was confident the project would be completed and believed there would be strong interest from the private sector in the development: “We know that a lot of companies locally and internationally will be very keen and interested in financing this project.

“From the baggage handling system, to parking, to the terminal. For me, I’m not worried.”

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