Boeing in Turbulence: Emirates Boss Demands Strong Leadership and Compensation for Delays

Emirates, a major Boeing customer, calls out the planemaker’s ‘poor’ performance this year and recent ‘delays in the 777X programme’.

Tim Clark, president of the Dubai-based major airline Emirates, has explicitly called on Boeing to find a strong leader with the necessary engineering and business chops to undertake a ‘root-and-branch’ overhaul of the company after the ‘endless’ stream of safety and production problems.

Clark notes that Boeing might be a couple of years away from recovering fully, and possibly five years from being able to accommodate present and future requirements. This is because the new 777X programme is becoming delayed, meaning that Emirates is embarking on a multi-billion dollar upgrade programme for its current 777 fleet.

Emirates Demands Compensation for Refurbishment Costs

As Boeing struggles internally to get its own house in order, Clark says the company needs to step up and cover the costs that airlines such as Emirates will be facing, including an expensive ‘mid-life’ refurbishment programme for the planes. ‘We cannot be in a situation where every few years we face delays,’ he says. ‘We want Boeing to stand behind their product and foot the bill.’

Boeing Seeks New Leadership

Boeing is currently seeking a new CEO, after Dave Calhoun announced that he would be leaving earlier than anticipated, at some stage in March 2024. The announcement followed a door opening error on a 737 MAX aircraft and amid ongoing fallout from the 737 MAX crashes of 2018 and 2019.

Clark is a vocal critic of Boeing today, but he never laid eyes on Calhoun and isn’t sure about who will succeed him yet. Stephanie Pope was recently installed as Boeing’s chief operating officer. As former president of the company’s highly profitable Global Services division, she’s proven herself as an effective executive. But for Clark’s purposes, the team needs someone with a strong engineering background going along with business savvy.

Uncertain Future for Boeing 777X Deliveries

Emirates is the biggest operator of the 777 family worldwide. Yet the airline says no one knows when exactly the first 777X will arrive: the programme is already five years behind schedule and had an initial delivery date of 2020. The hubris of Boeing’s current crisis contributes to a distrust of Boeing among customers such as Emirates.

Clark to Meet with New Boeing Chief

In the meantime, in a few days, Clark will be meeting with Stephanie Pope at the annual general meeting of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) in Dubai, where he plans to talk again about the 777X programme, and what that might mean for the Boeing-Emirates relationship in the future.