Emirates has purchased 40 American-made Boeing 787-10 Dreamliners reports suggest, with the long-haul carrier sealing the deal on Sunday at the start of the Dubai Air Show, alleged to be worth $15.1 billion.
The deal is certain to please the U.S. President Donald Trump who has touted the plane’s sales as a job creator in America. It will no doubt surprise Boeing’s major competitor Airbus, whose staff were attending a long-delayed news conference, leaving the room moments before the announcement.
Airbus has pinned hopes of continuing production of its double-decker jumbo jet on Emirates, the world’s largest operator of the aircraft, which took delivery of its 100th A380 earlier this month. Reports circulated before the air show that a major A380 sale would be coming.
Emirates CEO and Chairman Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum explained how the airline considered the Airbus A350 and decided to pick the Boeing 787-10, stating that the team were “comparing the two apples,” but found the Boeing 787 to be “the best option…given its maintenance and so on.”
It’s the second time Airbus has lost out on selling the A350 to Emirates. In June 2014, the state-owned Emirates cancelled an order for 70 A350s after a “fleet requirement” review.
The Boeing 787-10 typically lists for $312.8 million. Delivery will begin in 2022.
Chicago-based Boeing Co. already has 171 787-10s on order. Among those waiting for the aircraft are Abu Dhabi-based Etihad.
The twin-engine 787-10, however, has been a focus of Trump since he came into office. In February, he visited the Boeing plant in North Charleston, South Carolina, which manufactures the carbon-fiber, 330-seat plane Trump described as “an amazing piece of art.”
“As your president I’m going to do everything I can to unleash the power of the American spirit and to put our great people back to work,” Trump said at the time. “This is our mantra: Buy American and hire American.”
Sheikh Ahmed made a point to say the deal will help create more jobs, echoing Trump’s mantra. The deal was signed in the presence of Dubai’s ruler, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, who also serves as the United Arab Emirates’ prime minister and vice president.
“The order will take Emirates’ total (number of) wide body aircraft of the Boeing to 204 aircrafts, units worth over $90 billion,” Sheikh Ahmed said. “This is a long-term commitment that supports hundreds of thousands of jobs, not only at Boeing but also throughout the aviation supply chain.”
Emirates has suffered under Trump’s travel bans affecting predominantly Muslim nations, as well as the recent ban on laptops in airplane cabins. Emirates said it slashed 20 percent of its flights to the U.S. in the wake of the restrictions, though Dubai International Airport remains the world’s busiest international travel hub. Emirates now relies solely on the Airbus 380 and the Boeing 777 for its flights, making it the largest operator of both. It now has 165 Boeing 777s in its fleet today.
While a big sale, the Dubai Air Show opened Sunday on what seemed to be a quieter note. The only other major sale for airplane manufacturers involved Azerbaijan Airlines, which will buy five Boeing 787-8s, two other freighter aircraft and landing gear maintenance from it for some $1.9 billion.
It’s a far cry from 2013, when airlines made $140 billion in new orders before the collapse of global oil prices. Prices have rebounded recently to around $60 a barrel.
Missing from the trade show this year was Qatar Airways, amid a diplomatic fallout. Qatar Airways previously had played a big role in the Dubai Air Show, reserving a large pavilion and displaying its latest aircraft to visitors.
Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain cut ties with Qatar in June over its ties with Iran and its support of Islamist groups, accusing the small Gulf state of supporting extremists, charges it denies. The Arab quartet cut direct flights with Qatar and closed their airspace to Qatari aircraft.
Meanwhile, Emirates unveiled new, state-of-the-art, first class private suites.
In an industry first, passenger suites in the middle aisle without windows will be fitted with “virtual windows” relaying the sky outside via fiber optic cameras on the plane. There’s also a video call feature in the suites that connects passengers to the cabin crew, as well as temperature control and various mood lighting settings.
Emirates President Tim Clark declined to say how much a ticket in the 40 square-foot (3.7-square-meter) private suite will cost. The private suites will be available on the airline’s Boeing 777.