A formation of nine Royal Air Force Red Arrows Hawk aircraft fly alongside an Emirates' Boeing 777 aircraft on the occasion of the Dubai Airshow in Dubai, United Arab Emirates in this file photo. Dubai's Emirates kicked off the Mideast city's airshow yesterday with an order for 70 Boeing 777s valued at US$26 billion. [Photo: Shanghaidaily/Agencies]
Boeing Co secured the biggest order yet in its almost 100-year history after signing a US$26 billion agreement with Emirates for as many as 70 777 aircraft that extends the Middle East carrier's already dominant fleet.
The accord, signed at the Dubai Airshow yesterday, includes firm orders for 50 aircraft valued at US$18 billion, and the rest as options, Emirates Chairman Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum said. Deliveries will start in 2015, and the Dubai-based carrier will retire some older aircraft, he said.
"We have an ambitious and strategic plan to continue growing our international network and increasing our long-haul, non-stop routes," Sheikh Ahmed said.
Emirates is already the largest operator of the 777, which seats about 365 people, with 94 aircraft in its fleet and an order backlog of another 41. The carrier is also the biggest buyer of the Airbus SAS A380 double-decker jumbo, with 90 on order. Emirates has turned itself into the world's leading airline by international traffic, using its location in Dubai as a multi-directional hub to service global destinations.
The 777 is Boeing's most profitable program, and the company is increasing monthly production to keep up with demand. Boeing said the accord with Emirates contributed to the best year yet for the 777, surpassing a record of 154 units ordered in 2005.
"This is an extremely proud moment for us as it not only underscores Emirates' ongoing confidence in the 777 but also makes this the single largest order by dollar value in Boeing's history," said Jim Albaugh, the head of Boeing's commercial-jet subsidiary.
The airline is considering a variety of financing options, including export credit, Sheikh Ahmed said. The carrier remains committed to the Airbus A350, which will compete with the Boeing 787 Dreamliner as well as the 777, Emirates said.