The importance of the order was underlined by the presence of the vice-president and prime minister of the UAE, and ruler of the Emirate of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, at the announcement.
The order, worth $15.1 billion at list prices, has apparently put an end to Airbus’ hopes of selling the A350-900 to the Dubai carrier.
Emirates group chairman, Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, said that airline’s management had looked at both aircraft “and came to the conclusion that the 787 would be the better option”.
The company is still looking at which engine will power the 787-10s, with a decision expected “very soon”.
Deliveries will begin in 2022 and continue through the decade. Some will be used to replace older aircraft in the Emirates fleet, others will be for expansion.
President and CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes, Kevin McAllister, said the aircraft – the largest model in the 787 family and one of which is on the static display – had a range that would bring 85% of the world’s population within reach of Emirates’ Dubai hub. “This aircraft will open new destinations around the world for us.”
Asked if the size of the order represented a shrinking of the expected order for this class of aircraft, Sheikh Ahmed said: “No, not really. We always take the future into consideration and what is happening in the UAE.”
He made the point that the country was becoming an increasingly popular attraction for in-bound tourism, pointing out the recent opening of the Louvre in Abu Dhabi.