Gulf carriers prepare for Boeing’s 777X jets


DUBAI, UAE – As they prepare to buy Boeing’s new 777X jet, Gulf airline giants Emirates and Qatar Airways are warning that Boeing must avoid the mistakes of the 787 Dreamliner, which cost customers millions of dollars when its batteries failed.

These fast-growing Gulf carriers are expected to be among the first and possibly biggest customers for Boeing’s latest offering, which was presented to customers last week.

Emirates’ President Tim Clark on Sunday said, “Boeing came out of the ashes of the Sonic Cruiser years ago and came up with the Dreamliner, which was a leap of faith by any stretch. They were just beginning to stabilize when things went wrong again.”

Emirates are not a customer of the Dreamliner but is the largest 777 operator with up to 175 jets that will need replacing soon.

Boeing announced it had begun selling an upgraded aircraft family code-named 777X, launching a race against Airbus for sales of long-haul jets.

Boeing, which has just emerged from the Dreamliner crisis, will now have to convince customers who have lost millions due to the grounding of the 787s.

Chief Executive Akbar al Baker said that Qatar Airways, which grounded all its five Dreamliner aircraft, would receive compensation from Boeing.

Apart from Qatar Airways, fast-growing Gulf airline Etihad Airways has 41 Dreamliners on order.

When asked about assurances to its Gulf customers, Boeing’s Middle East President Jeff Johnson said, “We put together a permanent and comprehensive fix for the issue and we are confident of the 787 safety.”

The halt to Dreamliner flights has cost Boeing an estimated $600 million and forced it to halt deliveries.