MIAMI – In a recent news release, Emirates (EK) stated that it did not expect its new Boeing 777X to join its fleet until 2023. No reasons for this were given, but it can be speculated that the 777X program delays and ongoing COVID-19 pandemic are both major factors.

Emirates previously expected deliveries to be pushed back from 2021 to 2022, according to Chief Operating Officer Adel Ahmed Al Redha. “I don’t see that they [Boeing] will be able to deliver the aircraft in 2021. I think 2022 is a safe assumption to make,” Al Redha said.

Boeing announced the 777X in November 2013. The aircraft, an updated version of the 777, features General Electric GE9X high-bypass turbofan engines, folding wingtips, a wider cabin, and greater fuel efficiency. EK finalized an order for 150 777X in July 2014, of which 126 are pending delivery. They include two variants: the 777-8X and the stretched 777-9X. However, the airline altered the order, cutting some aircraft and swapping others for the 787 Dreamliner.

The first 777X for EK, a -9X, was seen nearing completion at the Boeing Everett Factory in Everett, Washington last year. EK plans to fit some of its 777X with its all-new Premium Economy cabin, set to initially launch on the Airbus A380. Additionally, EK will introduce a new Business Class product on the 777X which is allegedly similar to the current business product on the A380.

Emirates Boeing 777X. Photo: Boeing

World’s Largest Boeing 777 Operator

Emirates is currently the world’s largest operator of the Boeing 777. The 155-strong fleet consists of a mix of the -200LR, -300ER, and -777F variants. EK began flying the 777-200 in 1996, which was later joined by the -200ER and -300. All three variants have since been phased out by the airline.

In December 2018, EK received its final -300ER. The aircraft was the 190th 777 and 146th -300ER to be delivered to the airline. “The Boeing 777-300ER has been a cornerstone of Emirates’ success story as the world’s largest international airline. The aircraft’s efficiency, range and payload capabilities have enabled us to connect our customers across six continents to and through Dubai, and offer them a flight experience that is second to none,” comments EK’s President, Sir Timothy Clark.

“We’ve worked closely with Boeing on the 777 program over the last three decades, and we will build on this partnership as we start taking delivery of the 777-8 and 777-9,” Clark continues. EK says its 777 fleet has carried nearly 350 million passengers on more than 1.28 million flights over 4.1 billion mi (6.6 billion km). That would be the almost the same as flying 8600 trips to the moon and back.

Emirates Boeing 777X. Photo: Boeing