The Boeing 777X seemingly cannot catch a break, as one of its biggest customers, Emirates, is looking to swap orders for the wide-body for its smaller cousin, the 787 Dreamliner.
As Boeing announced its 2020 financial results on January 27, 2021, besides a massive $11.9 billion net loss, the company also reduced its firm backlog on the 777X from 350 to 191. This was done due to the ASC 606 accounting standard, which forced the manufacturer to downsize its backlog. Greg Smith, the Chief Financial Officer of Boeing, clarified during the financial results analyst call that the downsized backlog was also the result of the recent delay to the aircraft program. The 777X, which was first set to enter service in 2020, will now fly commercially in late-2023.
As a result, airlines have the right “to terminate orders or substitute orders for other Boeing aircraft,” according to the plane maker’s most recent Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)’s filing.
Now, the backlog could crumble further, as Emirates airline is reportedly eyeing to swap as many as a third of its orders of the 777X for the smaller Boeing 787, reported Bloomberg, citing a person familiar with the matter. The airline, which has 115 aircraft of the type on order, has already done that once. During the Dubai Airshow in November 2019, the Dubai-based airline opted for 30 Boeing 787-9 aircraft, as it “exercised its right to substitute the B777X with B787s,” read the announcement.
More rumors for another swap followed as reportedly, Emirates was also eyeing another switch up in its Boeing backlog in August 2020. At the time, the company’s Chief Operating Officer (COO) Adel Al Redha indicated that the airline does not “want to dump capacity in the airline when the airline can’t absorb capacity,” in relation to the downturn in demand for international travel. When placing its initial order in 2013, Emirates indicated the 777-9 would seat 440 passengers. In comparison, a typical two-class cabin configuration of the 787-9 is 296 passengers.