Emirates’ president pledges more plane purchases

Emirates was in discussions for four to five years with Boeing over the new airliner

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Emirates’ appetite for plane purchases will not cease, the airline’s president Tim Clark told AFP on Monday, a day after the Dubai-based carrier ordered 200 planes from Boeing and Airbus.

“I don’t think Emirates is going to stop with this order,” he said, referring to purchases announced at Dubai Airshow on Sunday, including a commitment to buy 150 Boeing 777X long-range planes and a firm order for 50 Airbus A380 superjumbos.

The order from Boeing is valued at $55.6 billion, excluding engines, while the purchase from its European rival Airbus amounts to $20 billion at list price.

“The intention of the government of Dubai is to fill the new airfield here on this site,” at Al-Maktoum International Airport which opened for passenger operations last month.

Dubai has in the past announced ambitions to turn Al-Maktoum into the world’s largest aviation hub once completed, with five runways and a capacity to handle 160 million passengers.

“They’re hoping to get that in the state of readiness for 2020-2022 and the scale of that will allow us to grow our fleet further,” said Clark.

“When we have more firm lines on that, we will be revisiting our fleet plans and routes structures.”

But he said the fast-expanding carrier would continue to operate at one of Dubai’s airports, and not both.

Clark said the commitment to buy 150 Boeing aircraft would be finalized before the end of 2013.

“The contract will be finalized by the end of December, so six weeks away... What we did was sign a commitment letter which will lead to a contract very shortly,” he said.

Emirates was in discussions for four to five years with Boeing over the new airliner that is scheduled to enter service around 2020.

“In the last months we’ve got it where we wanted it to be,” said Clark. “Basically the terms are agreed with Boeing.”

The biennial Dubai Airshow got off to a bright start Sunday, with orders from the big three Gulf carriers -- Emirates, Etihad Airways and Qatar Airways -- for Boeing and Airbus planes hitting $141.5 billion, excluding the price of engines.