By Elizabeth Broomhall
Middle East's largest airline to receive 102nd 777 purchase from Boeing in Seattle
Emirates, the Middle East’s largest airline, is to accept delivery of Boeing's 1000th 777 this week, marking its 102nd purchase of that model from the US plane maker.
The Dubai-based carrier, which will acquire the 777-300ER in Seattle on Friday, is the only airline to date to order and operate all six models in the 777 family.
"The delivery of the 1000th Boeing 777 to the world's biggest 777 customer is a hugely significant landmark - not just in history, but for the industry too,” said aviation analyst Saj Ahmed, from StrategicAero Research.
“The demand for this airplane is well documented, so it's little wonder Emirates ordered so many of them, not just to leverage the increased production rates of the 777 but also to augment its continued growth which has taken on a new dimension with new routes this year, particularly in North America.”
Boeing’s 777 planes have been hugely popular with the world’s airlines in recent years, with more than 200 orders for 777s last year alone.
The 777-300ER has been a particular favourite since its launch in February 2000, securing more than 600 orders to date based on its suitability for long and short haul routes, as well as its capacity to carry more freight than other passenger jets.
Emirates said in November it would purchase a further 50 777-300ERs from Boeing for a total of $18bn -the aircraft maker’s largest single commercial plane order.
The state-backed carrier, which currently has a fleet of 169 aircraft flying to 121 destinations, previously announced plans to spend about $10bn per year to fund its fleet expansion over three years as it seeks to boost its network of flights around the world.
Experts say the Boeing airplane has become the backbone of the state-backed carrier’s regional and international operations.
“Arguably, had Emirates not aligned itself with the ubiquity of the 777, and in particular the 777-300ER over the last decade, then the carrier probably wouldn't be where it is today,” added Ahmed.
“The airline is unlikely to move away from the 777 anytime soon and, if anything, further delays to the [Airbus] A350 family will spur Emirates into buying even more 777s.”
He added that Emirates would likely be a key customer for Boeing’s latest 777 model, the upgraded 777-9X, which should be released onto the market later this year.
“Boeing is looking to launch the bigger 777-9X sooner rather than later, possibly even by the turn of this year.”