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Boeing needs strong CEO to end crisis, says Emirates boss amid 777 delays

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The Boeing 777-9 model is about five years late and was scheduled for delivery in 2025, but Emirates currently has no visibility on the latest time frame of when it can be handed over

The CEO of Dubai Airlines said that the recent confidence crisis at Boeing “must get done” and urged the American aviation giant to select a heavyweight in engineering and business to spearhead a comprehensive overhaul of the planemaker.

“Is it fixable and salvageable? Yes, it is. Will it get things back to where it needs to be? It must. And you’ll only do that with very strong leadership, who are fixated on doing the right thing,” Emirates Airline President Tim Clark told reporters on the sidelines of a major airlines summit, as reported by the Zawya.

It might take five years to turn around the manufacturer following a string of safety and industrial issues so that it can smoothly meet both new and existing demand, Clark noted further.

Boeing announced that CEO Dave Calhoun would step down by the 2024 end, following the crises in the aviation giant that were unfolded by the blowout of a loose door plug on an Alaska Airlines 737 MAX 9 aircraft in January of this year.

As a result, the company is currently searching for a new CEO. One of Boeing’s harshest critics throughout the crisis, Clark told Reuters he had never met Calhoun, the CEO who took over in January 2020 after two 737 MAX crashes in 2018 and 2019 claimed almost 350 lives.

“I think that people who have got a really broad aerospace engineering capability, who are good business managers as well, are the people that you need to bring back and sort this one out. Whether Stephanie Pope is going to be able to step up and do that (as well as) anybody, time will tell,” Clark said.

“But we need aeroplanes, we cannot face constant delays. We’ve got a business to run and if we’re having to foot the bill for refurbishing all these (existing) aeroplanes it should be put at Boeing’s door,” he added, while suggesting that the plane maker should foot the bill for Emirates’ multibillion-dollar programme to retrofit the latter’s 777 wide-body jets amid delays in the development of the newer 777X version.

The delays in the new wide-body aircraft’s development programme have forced the Gulf carrier to put additional Boeing 777s through retrofit and the airline boss wants Boeing to pay for the extensive refurbishment it is undertaking.

“We need our aeroplanes, we cannot face constant delays, we’ve got a business to run and the bill for refurbishing all these aeroplanes should be put at Boeing’s door,” Clark noted.

In May 2024, Emirates announced completely refurbishing another 28 Boeing 777 aircraft, after the original plan called for 53 777s to undergo a full makeover.

“The Boeing 777-9 model is about five years late and was scheduled for delivery in 2025, but Emirates currently has no visibility on the latest time frame of when it can be handed over,” Clark said.

At the Dubai Airshow in November 2023, Emirates signed a deal to put orders for 55 additional Boeing 777-9s and 35 Boeing 777-8s. The airline’s 777X order book currently has a total of 205 jets, making it the biggest buyer of Boeing wide-bodies.

However, Boeing will need five years to address the problems arising from its current safety and quality crisis before meeting plane production demand from new and existing customers, according to Clark.

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