Emirates Converts 30 Boeing 777X Orders Into 787-9s to Complement Recently Ordered A350-900s

On November 18, 2019, I wrote about Emirates firming up an order of 50 Airbus A350-900 aircraft at Dubai Airshow.

Today, the airline made another important announcement regarding its fleet expansion and renewal plans – it converted 30 of the Boeing 777Xs it had on order into the smaller 787-9s.

Emirates Converts 30 Boeing 777X Orders Into 787-9s to Complement Recently Ordered A350-900s
Emirates 787-9 rendering. (Credit: Emirates)

Emirates Firms Up an Order for 30 787-9s

While Emirates signed an MoU for 40 Boeing 787-10s in 2017, in the end, it decided to purchase 30 of the shorter 787-9s. The aircraft, rather than being brand new orders, will be delivered instead of 30 of the Boeing 777X aircraft that Emirates already had on order.

The latest order finalizes Emirates’ plans to expand its fleet to include smaller, but still wide-body aircraft to be able to serve thinner route that its current fleet doesn’t allow it to. The 30 787-9s will complement the 50 slightly larger A350-900s.

Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, the Chairman and Chief Executive of Emirates Airline and Group, explained the order with the same words as when signing the A350 order earlier this week:

The 787s will complement our fleet mix by expanding our operational flexibility in terms of capacity, range and deployment.

Emirates expects the first of the 787-9s to be delivered in May 2023 – around the same time as it expects its first A350-900 – and the rest of the aircraft will be delivered over the following five years.

Emirates Alters Earlier Agreement with Airbus, Cancels A330neos and Commits to Buy 50 A350s
Emirates A350-900 rendering. (Credit: Airbus)

Besides the two smaller wide-body types ordered at this year’s Dubai Airshow, Emirates also has the larger Boeing 777X – both the 777-8 and 777-9 variants – on order. Those, however, are experiencing development delays, and according to today’s statement:

Emirates will enter into discussions with Boeing over the next few weeks on the status of deliveries.

Currently, Emirates operates a fleet of 155 Boeing 777s – including mainly 777-300ERs and some 777-200LRs. It also operates over 100 Airbus A380s.

That makes it the largest operator of both the 777 and the A380 in the world.

Emirates 777-300ER
Emirates 777-300ER.


Initially, Emirates had MoUs for 30 A330neos, 40 A350-900s, and 40 787-9s. With the two new orders, it now has firm orders for 50 A350-900s and 30 787-9s, allowing it to diversify its fleet across the two manufacturers.

The 80 new medium-sized wide-body aircraft will allow Emirates to open up new routes that the 777s and A380s are large for. They will also allow it to increase frequencies on routes where two 777s or a combination of a 777 and an A380 would offer too much capacity.

Once the A350s and 787s enter the Emirates fleet in 2023, it will be the first time in about seven years (since retiring its A330s and A340s in 2016) for the airline to have similarly sized aircraft.

With that in mind, I am looking forward to seeing how Emirates will utilize them in practice. I am also looking forward to photographing both of the types in the Emirates livery.


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