Emirates (EK, Dubai International) continues to apply pressure to Boeing over its much-delayed B777X programme, with Chairman and CEO Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum telling CNBC last week that the OEM needs to get its act together.

"We're not happy with what's going on; we always really wanted to see this aircraft entering the fleet when it had been promised," said Al Maktoum. "I always say, you know, get your act together and just do it. And I think they can do it."

Boeing data shows Emirates has ordered 205 B777X, making it the largest customer of the type. The manufacturer launched the programme in 2013, and Emirates placed its first order for 115 B777-9s and thirty-five B777-8s at the Dubai Air Show later in the year, with deliveries due to start in 2020. In 2019, amid delays, the airline trimmed its order by 30, swapping them for B787-9s.

However, ten years after first ordering the B777X and despite having escalating delays, Emirates ordered another fifty-five B777-9s and thirty-five B777-8s at the 2023 Dubai Air Show. "We’ve been closely involved in the B777 programme since its start-up until this latest generation of B777X aircraft," Al Maktoum said at the time. "The B777 has been central to Emirates’ fleet and network strategy of connecting cities on all continents non-stop to Dubai."

Until relatively recently, Emirates and other customers had been counting on deliveries to begin in 2025. However, airline customers, including Lufthansa (LH, Frankfurt International), are now beginning to push that back to 2026.

Meanwhile, Emirates has confirmed expanding its cabin retrofits to 191 aircraft, adding another forty-three A380-800s and twenty-eight B777 types to the list of aircraft undergoing refurbishments. To date, it has retrofitted twenty-eight A380-800s, and the first B777 is due to go out of service for approximately two weeks for its refresh in July.

The refurbished B777s will have 332 seats across four classes - eight first-class seats, 40 business-class seats, 24 in premium economy, and 260 in economy. Emirates will remove fifty economy seats from the B777s to make room for the new premium economy cabin.

Emirates is making its retrofits in-house, saying it has around 250 people working on the project alongside 31 suppliers and partners. The original refurbishment plan targeted 120 aircraft - sixty-seven A380-800s and fifty-three B777s.