Emirates' Clark says won't take new planes unless engines are truly ready

September 4, 2019 6:14 AM

LONDON (Reuters) - Emirates President Tim Clark said engine makers Rolls-Royce (NYSE: RR) and GE (NYSE: GE) must improve their reliability, saying the airline would not take new Airbus (NYSE: AIR) and Boeing (NYSE: BA) planes unless they were truly ready.

Boeing has pushed back the entry into service of an ultra-long-range version of its forthcoming 777X widebody, in part due to issues with its GE engines.

"When they don't give me those aeroplanes and engines that work - it's over. Now you produce what you say you will produce and give it us," Clark said at a briefing in London, adding that the airline would only take planes when they were truly ready.

Emirates has 150 777Xs on order and in 2017 ordered 40 787s, and Clark has said Emirates could replace some of the 777Xs with 787s.

Clark said he was still keen on the 777x but frustrated by the delay and was unsure as to when it would be resolved. He also said he would not make a commitment on the 787 either as there was no stability in the Rolls-Royce engine program.

"I think propulsion is an issue for us, and I'm a little bit irritated... I say you give us airframes and engines that work from day one. If you can't do it, don't produce them," he said.

"We would be foolish to start adjusting or coming up with new contracts until we are absolutely sure these aircraft are going to do what they said they were going to do."

He also said that he had been willing to complete a contract for Airbus A330neos and A350s "months ago" but said he had concerns that Rolls-Royce was not in a position to provide the engines "under the rules of the game that I've just established."

Clark said that he expected industry air traffic growth to diminish over the next 3-5 years by around 2 percentage points.

In a context of slowing global growth, Clark said that Emirates would have to re-evaluate jet orders made 2-3 years ago, but denied engine issues provided a convenient excuse to reassess a backlog of aircraft orders.

"Clouds and silver linings are one thing. Was this an orchestrated slow or stop? No it wasn't", he said. "This is not an attempt to slow things with a regard to our obligations under contract. It is just a re-establishment of the rules of the game, which I do not think are unreasonable."

(Reporting by Alistair Smout, editing by Louise Heavens and Elaine Hardcastle)

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