UAE Chooses Boeing Over Airbus for $15 Billion Order of 40 New Jets

Deliveries will start in 2022 and Emirates has yet to decide between engines offered by General Electric and Rolls-Royce

Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum (L), CEO & Chairman of Emirates Airline, Kevin Mcallister (R), Executive VP & CEO of Commercial Airplanes Boeing, sign contract during the press conference at Dubai Air Show in Dubai, UAE November 12, 2017
REUTERS/Satish Kumar

Emirates unveiled a preliminary order worth $15 billion for 40 Boeing jets on Sunday.

The largest Middle East carrier signed a draft deal for the largest version of Boeing's 787 Dreamliner, the 787-10, watched by Dubai Ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, credited for the launch of Emirates more than 30 years ago.

Airline chairman Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed al-Maktoum said the carrier had chosen the latest version of U.S. based Boeing's mid-sized wide-body jet after comparing it with the Airbus A350.

Deliveries will start in 2022 and Emirates has yet to decide between engines offered by General Electric and Rolls-Royce.

Boeing landed the order even as business confidence in the region has wobbled.

But Sheikh Ahmed said the deal was proof that the region's hub aviation model was working.

Airbus, a French company, has been looking for a boost to the A380 superjumbo, which after a decade in service has seen sales decline in favour of smaller but equally efficient long-haul jetliners. 

Airbus envoys arrived in the press conference room apparently expecting a combined announcement, only to see Boeing take the honors.

No further announcements were scheduled by Emirates for Sunday, but could not be ruled out later in the week.

“Emirates are still talking to Airbus about it. There are no promises,” a Gulf source said.

A key to the deal could be the extent to which Airbus is prepared to buy back A380s due to leave the Emirates fleet.

“A few trade-ins will be involved,” a person familiar with the matter said.

Azerbaijan Airlines meanwhile announced an order for five Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner jets and two freighters.

And, distancing itself from rivals that have cut out first class seats, Emirates joined forces with Mercedes-Benz to launch new first-class suites inspired by luxury car interiors.