Emirates A350/787 bake-off remains wide open

Tim Clark, president of Emirates Airline. Photo: Skift.com via Google images.

June 9, 2015, c. Leeham Co. Competition between Airbus and Boeing remains wide open between the A350-900 and the 787-10, says the president of Emirates Airline despite an Internet report that the carrier has tilted toward Boeing.

“No, I don’t know where that’s coming from,” Clark today told Leeham News and Comment on the sidelines of the International Air Transport Assn. Annual General Meeting in Miami Beach. “If anything, the 10 is not coming up with the thrust requirements that we need. We’re working with Boeing on that, whereas the A350-900 has got bags of thrust.

“We’re kind of looking at the A350-1000 as well, but we’ve got the [Boeing] 777-9 and the 777-8 coming in, so they are going to take care of a lot of what the -1000 would have done. Really, we’re looking at the -900 and the 787-10.”

  • Update, June 9: Flight Global has this interview with Clark and additional detail.

There is no nexus between the A350 and the A380neo, Clark said. “No, none whatsoever.”

When LNC last interview Clark in September at a conference there, Clark said that when Emirates had flown the A380 the standard 12-15 years of the EK business plan, Clark said EK would park and scrap the airplanes.
‘Of course I got into big trouble with all the lessors,” Clark told LNC today. “What we’re trying to do is get the A380 revitalized,” Clark said, referring to airframe enhancements and the prospect of the neo. “The airplane today is great for us. It makes us a lot of money because we fill it all the time. It remains a constant, so we will just keep on operating these aircraft until [Airbus] make up their minds about what they are going to do. For the lessors who find that their time is coming to an end, we will probably continue to use the same airplanes, just renew the leases for a period of time until [Airbus] make up their minds. It’s all speculative at the moment. There is no point trying to second guess what Airbus may or may not do.”

Emirates selected the Rolls-Royce Trent 900 for the most recent order for 50 A380s, switching from the Engine Alliance GP7200. At the time, Clark was quoted saying EA had “flat-lined.” Today he defined what he meant.

“I think [Engine Alliance] have decided that there wasn’t a business case to add technology to the engine and improve it. They thought that to do that it was going to cost quite a few billion dollars and there wouldn’t be enough sales to support it in their view, so they decided not to do” a second or third generation GP7200.

Rolls-Royce was willing to add technology to the T900, Clark said. Engine Alliance was comfortable losing the order under the circumstances, he said.

25 Comments on “Emirates A350/787 bake-off remains wide open

  1. Pingback: Emirates’ Clark talks 787 & A350, fires broadside on US Open Skies dispute | SkyWriter Aviation

  2. There have been 787-10 vs A359 competitions before.

    Carsten Spohr, CEO of the LH passenger airline division said then: “The 787-9 is too small for our requirements and the 787-10 does not have the necessary range for around 40% of the destinations”.

    In the past, cargo capasity used to be important for Emirates, as well as being able to cover the network and perform well from the hot Dubai runways.

  3. Even if Boeing was the frontrunner, it does him no favours to publicly admit this, so meh, his comments don’t matter much.

  4. 787-10 is badly compromised airplane. Sales have stalled since long ago because Boeing does not want to invest enough into developing it’s capabilities. There just isn’t very much market that is basically very big one trick (TATL) pony.

  5. Well, no matter what he says, I still get the feeling Airbus’s carrot is bigger to him than his is to Airbus…

  6. “787-10 is badly compromised airplane. Sales have stalled since long ago because Boeing does not want to invest enough into developing it’s capabilities. There just isn’t very much market that is basically very big one trick (TATL) pony.”

    (palm to my forehead ….) Should we think that another model like say the A350-1000 is mediocre because it hasn’t sold since …. 2013? The 787-10 is selling just fine, just not on the schedule of others. That’s all. Secondly, the 781 can, in its current for, 1 year before design freeze, can fly 90% of the long haul routes of today. Nothing to sneeze at.

    ******** A quote John Wojick, Boeing’s senior vice president for global sales and marketing. ********* “The biggest drawback when selling 787s right now is we don’t have any availability until out towards the end of the decade. That’s one of the reasons you don’t see higher sales of 787s currently,” he adds.

    Wojick cites this lack of slots as being “a big issue” when the 787 lost out to the A330neo in the Delta Air Lines campaign last year, as the US carrier “wanted airplanes sooner than we had availability at the time”.

    This is an issue that Boeing has no easy answer to, he adds.

    “We don’t have the ability to go up in rate any faster than the 14 [a month] we’re projecting at the end of the decade – which is the highest production rate of a widebody ever. So people are just going to have to wait a little bit.”




    • I was under the impression that Delta had publically denied that lack of slots was in any way part of the decision to pick the Airbus 330/350 over the Boeing 787 – but my memory may be at fault.

      • @ David Hughes,

        Availability was a big, if not the deciding factor for Delta:

        From Seattle PI, quoting this site’s own Scott Hamilton:
        “Delta wants the A350s starting in 2017 and the A330neos two years later, Hamilton said in an interview. He said a decisive factor in the airline’s choice was that Airbus was able to offer early delivery slots, but Boeing couldn’t.

        Boeing has unfilled orders for 850 Dreamliners and plans to ramp up production from the current 10 jets per month to 14 a month by the end of the decade in order to meet demand for earlier deliveries.

        Asked about the big expected order in an interview in June, Delta Chief Executive Richard Anderson said “we really need deliveries around 2017, 2018.”

        • Thu May 28, 2015.
          “Delta ordered 40 A330 aircraft in 2013 including 10 A330s. It recently placed an order for A330s and A350s in a blow to Boeing (BA.N), which later said it had lost because it had been unable to supply 787 Dreamliners as early as Delta had wanted.

          Bastian denied this, saying Boeing had delivery positions available and had lost for competitive reasons.”


          (Don’t shoot the messenger.)

  7. “That’s all. Secondly, the 781 can, in its current for, 1 year before design freeze, can fly 90% of the long haul routes of today. Nothing to sneeze at.”

    Boeing says that. It aint so, unless you assume cargo is unimportant. Ask LH.

    Delta & 787 slot availability. Feel good story from Boeing also, not from the airline.

    • LH is not the standard. Other airlines that have sizeable cargo fleets have ordered the type. SQ, NH and soon BR to name a few. Even UA, with no dedicated freighter svc has converted most if not all of their remaining orders over to the – 10. LH won the RFP, congratulations to them but let’s not paint them as the zenith of aircraft purchasing.

      DL ceo Richard Anderson needed deliveries starting around 2017. Boeing could not deliver anything in the time frame indicated. Airbus could. Airbus won the RFP. It can be debated forever what EXACTLY tilted the vote to Airbus vs Boeing. It’s that simple.

      • SQ and BR will use the 787-10 for intra-Asia flying: less than 7 to 8 hours (probably many routes less than 4 hours) where the fly it with max pax and max cargo. It will replace the A333 which do that now. I think most of the routes will be mid-haul. Examples: SIN-TPE, TPE-BKK, SIN-BKK, SIN-KUL, TPE-NRT etc.

  8. How much more thrust emirates wants from the 787-10. Rolls royce is saying that they can upgade the trent 1000 to 78K while General Electric said that they had tested the engine at 80.5K but would be enough for emirates.

    • Apologies in advance for such a rudimentary question, but I know next to nothing about the technical side of things so I must ask: why would Emirates want more thrust from the 787-10? More generally, what are the benefits of higher thrust, and are there any downsides/tradeoffs?

      Thanks in advance to anyone willing to give me the dumbed down answer 🙂 .

      • See my reply to stathis. When you have thrust excess the FADECs cutting of thrust is OK, you can take-off on a hot day from Dubai with a full ship.

    • The problem is not the thrust, it is the thrust at temperatures 30-40°C over normal (ISA + 30°C or more), i.e. at start from Dubai. An engine like the GEnx or Trent delivers thrust in relation to the Turbine inlet temp. Raise the temp going into the engine with 30-40°C and the engine computer (FADEC) will reduce the amount of fuel it injects in the combustors to not melt the turbines at the resulting higher temp for the air going into the turbine but even more important the higher temp of the turbine cooling air taken from the compressor side. So you lose thrust at high temps meaning you have to reduce Take-Off Weight meaning you have to block seats or leave cargo behind even though there was space for it.

  9. Stathis,

    I am not so sure if I would give Airbus the big advantage there. In the middle of that article is a paragraph where Mr. Clark states he believes the 787-10 is more fuel efficient than the A350-9 and that the A350-9 has more range than Emirates Airlines needs (i.e. is heavier than Emirates Airlines needs it to be).

    I think this is the typical, “it could go either way and we won’t know until the last minute” kind of deal.

    I assume that if they do orde the A350, this time they will keep the order. =:-))

  10. I see the A350 as a long to ultra-long range aircraft, as a replacement for the A340-500/600 and as an alternative to the 777 and coming 777x.

    The stretched 787 is still in A330 territory and will be a direct competitor to the A330-900neo. These aircrafts have similar characteristics, including size and range, and can be delivered with the same engine. Am I missing something?

  11. ¨Rolls-Royce was willing to add technology to the T900, Clark said. ¨

    If RR can PIP the T900 with enough TEN/T7000 tech there is no case for an A380NEO until Advance or large GTF becomes available.

  12. The A350 is also now in the same 787 territory – long waiting time for availability.

  13. Pingback: Is Emirates in trouble? - Leeham News and Comment

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