REPORTS: Emirates chief slams Boeing, Airbus

Emirates_president Tim-Clark
Tim Clark, president of Emirates.

Media reports from London show the president of Emirates, Tim Clark, blasting jet manufacturers Airbus and Boeing and engine makers Rolls-Royce and General Electric for recent stumbles in their products that may cause the airline to lose business.

“I am a little bit irritated that, over the years, we as an airline, and I think as the industry, have been subjected to the requirements of the propulsion manufacturers, and to an extent the airframe manufacturers, where we are expected to deal with quality control issues and design issues, and operate these aircraft and engines, and take whatever consequences there are when they don’t work,” Clark said during a briefing in London, where he was attending the Aviation Festival, according to a report from Reuters. “We are not in a business to deal with aircraft that don’t function properly.”

Emirates, which has the world’s biggest fleet of Airbus A380s, is planning to replace those four-engine planes with twin-engine models like the Airbus A350, Airbus 330neo, Boeing 777X and Boeing 787. In London however, Clark said Emirates won’t take any of the jets until Airbus and Boeing can deliver the reliability Emirates expects.

Safety is not an issue, Clark said, but Emirates cannot afford to keep pulling its most expensive assets from service because the airframe or engine needs repair. He said Emirates aims to achieve at least 99.5 percent reliability from its fleet, and expects to do little maintenance on an airplane for the first five years of its life. “I’m not saying we don’t like the A330,” he said. “I’m not saying we won’t like the 787-9 and -10. I’m not saying we don’t like the A350. These are hugely potent aircraft that eventually will get all their operations sorted out. They are outstanding designs. Unfortunately they’re not being put together as well as they should be.”

Clark criticised the plane makers and engine suppliers, saying some aircraft were not meeting the specifications on range, fuel burn and other standards that had been promised. He singled out the now-delayed Boeing 777X, and said he was concerned also about General Electric’s engines. “The fact is, the Boeing 777X is delayed as a result of engine issues, and we are unsure as to when this is going to be resolved” Clark said, according to media reports. “I have been in this business longer than I like to remember, and I have seen airline and engine developments which are beset with problems. The airlines are now being required to deal with those, and work together with manufacturers to get them resolved. I say no. I say, ‘you give us airframes and engines that work from day one.’ If you can’t do it, don’t produce them.”

Clark said he has similar concerns with a top GE rival, Rolls-Royce, which makes engines for the A380, as well as other jets. “There is no stability in the Rolls-Royce program at the moment as we see it,” Clark said.

Meanwhile, Emirates has announced new executive leadership appointments for its operational, commercial and international affairs functions. Adel Al Redha has been appointed chief operating officer, Adnan Kazim is chief commercial officer and Sheikh Majid Al Mualla is divisional senior vice president for international affairs.

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Matthew Driskill is the Editor of Asian Aviation and is based in Cambodia. He has been an Asia-based journalist and content producer since 1990 for outlets including Reuters and the International Herald Tribune/New York Times and is a former president of the Foreign Correspondents Club of Hong Kong. He frequently appears on international broadcast outlets like CNN, Al Jazeera and the BBC and has taught journalism at Hong Kong University and the American University of Paris. Driskill has received awards from the Associated Press for Investigative Reporting and Business Writing and in 1989 was named the John J. McCloy Fellow by the Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia University in New York where he earned his Master's Degree.


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