Emirates (EK, Dubai International) is prepared to cancel its order for 115 B777X if Boeing delays their first deliveries beyond 2023, Chairman Tim Clark told Airlineratings in an interview.

"If it goes beyond 2023 and it goes on for another year, we probably cancel the program. What else can we do? We can't continue the way we are. Boeing really needs to get their act together and get this aircraft sorted. Don't forget - the aircraft was originally designed for delivery in April 2020, it's now 2024 if we are lucky," he said.

The Emirati carrier has firm orders for ninety-nine B777-9s and sixteen B777-8s, the ch-aviation fleets module shows, making it the largest customer of the type globally. Clark underlined that Emirates remains committed to the B777X, partially due to a lack of alternatives in the same capacity range. He revealed that he had lobbied Airbus to develop a replacement for the A380, but the manufacturer is unwilling to invest in this segment.

While twelve initial B777-9 fuselages for Emirates have already been built, Clark said Boeing had so far committed to delivering just three to five of them in 2024.

The American manufacturer hopes to obtain the B777-9 type certificate by July 2023, although the Federal Aviation Administration slowed the certification process last year, potentially delaying service entry to the first quarter of 2024. Clark disclosed that intensive engine tests are planned this summer in Dubai, where the aircraft will be subject to repeated maximum-power take-offs in hot and dusty conditions.

Clark said Emirates' order for thirty B787-9s was also in danger due to the ongoing pause in the type's production caused by manufacturing issues discovered in mid-2021.

"They were supposed to come in May 2023. But it's not going to happen, how can they deliver? Look at the huge backlog, they haven't produced any aircraft lately, that'll take them two or three years to go over that... [Our contract with Boeing] is in a complete mess. We don't want to cancel the B787s or the B777-9s, we want the airplanes," Clark said.

The airline is worried that these delivery delays will cause capacity gaps once traffic recovers after the COVID-19 pandemic. Emirates' fleet currently comprises 121 A380-800s (which are no longer produced, although Clark has vowed to continue operating some of them through the mid-2030s), 124 B777-300(ER)s (which are 9 years old on average), and ten B777-200(LR)s (13.8 years old).

"We try to deal with it by extending aircraft lives and trying to advance some of the new aircraft, which currently will only come from 2024. Life extension will affect about 120 aircraft, 80 of them A380s, plus about 40 or 50 B777-300ERs. The exact numbers haven't been fixed. Their life will be extended by six to ten years each," Clark explained.