By Rytis Beresnevicius
Emirates and Boeing struck a deal to expand the carrier’s cargo fleet with an additional five 777F aircraft, valued at more than $1.7 billion at list prices, to expand its cargo fleet and meet demand for cargo transportation in the short and medium-term future.
The five Boeing 777Fs will join the Dubai-based international airline in 2024 and 2025, with two aircraft to be delivered in 2024 and the remaining three in 2025. The cargo section of the airline, Emirates SkyCargo, already operates 11 Boeing 777 planes.
“Emirates is investing in new freighters so that we can continue to serve customer demand with the latest fuel-efficient aircraft. This order reflects Emirates’ confidence in airfreight demand and overall aviation sector growth,” stated Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, the chairman and chief executive of Emirates Airline and Group.
Stan Deal, the president and CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes, noted that the plane maker values “the trust that Emirates has repeatedly placed in its all-Boeing freighter fleet,” as the additional five 777Fs “will enable the airline to support its growing cargo market demand.”
The agreement, per list prices, is worth over $1.7 billion. In addition to the recently announced freighters, two newly built wide-bodies joined the airline’s fleet in May and June 2022, and the airline is scheduled to begin converting 10 of its B777-300s to freighters in 2023.
Despite what might be welcoming news, the question is whether the manufacturer has made certain price concessions to bridge the gap between the current 777F/777-300ER backlog and the upcoming 777X.
The issue has been the ever-lagging certification process of the 777X, a continuation of the almost-30-year-old design that first flew in June 1994. The company has long sought to introduce the folding wing-tip aircraft, but continuous bumps in the road have forced Boeing to delay the first delivery of the 777X until 2025, the manufacturer confirmed as it released its Q1 2022 financial results.
As a result, Boeing had to stop production of the 777X at least until the end of 2023, resulting in “approximately $1.5 billion of abnormal costs beginning in the second quarter of this year and continuing until 777-9 production resumes.” Instead, Boeing has leveraged the “adjustment to the 777-9 production rate ramp to add 777 Freighter capacity starting in late-2023.”
According to Al Maktoum, the new deal “lays the ground for our continued growth, which is driven by the reach of our diverse global network, the advanced handling infrastructure at our Dubai hub, and the tailored transport solutions that Emirates has developed to serve our varied customers’ needs.”