Boeing may soon get the biggest order in its history, a $30 billion commitment for the newest version of its 777 jet, from the airline that already operates the largest fleet of 777s in the world. Dubai-based Emirates Airline is in advanced negotiations with the Boeing Co. (NYSE:BA) for as many as 100 of the long-range twinjets, in a deal that would be valued at more than $30 billion at list prices.   

Emirates CEO Tim Clark told the Financial Times (paywall) that the airline is considering buying both new versions of the airplane, the 777-9X, which carries 400 passengers, and the smaller 777-8X, which carries 350 but has longer range. Neither has flown; the new airplane got its first order last month from Germany’s Deutsche Lufthansa AG (FRA:LHA).

The deal could be announced officially at the Dubai Airshow, which will be Nov. 17-21. Aviation trade shows are typically used by manufacturers to announce large orders, and the Dubai event will take place in Emirates’ own backyard.  

777 Assembly Line
A Boeing 777 Series 300ER for Emirates Airline being assembled at the Boeing plant in Renton, Washington, in September 2011. Photo: Alberto Riva

The biggest order for Boeing so far has been a commitment for 230 of its narrow-body 737s from Lion Air, a privately owned low-fare carrier in Indonesia. That deal, finalized in 2012, is worth about $22 billion at list prices. Airlines placing large orders usually get discounts on the price lists published by Boeing and rival Airbus, a unit of European Aeronautic Defence and Space Co. (EPA:EAD).    

According to Clark, Emirates may also buy more Airbus A380 double-decker super jumbos. The airline is the largest operator of the four-engined jet, the biggest passenger airplane ever made: It has 37 in service and 53 more on order. The A380 has not been a commercial success, with only 259 orders since its launch in 2000.

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Emirates, founded in 1985, has grown quickly into the fifth-largest airline in the world, and the biggest outside the U.S., by passenger-kilometers flown, a standard measure in the civil aviation industry. Fully owned by the government of Dubai, it already operates the largest fleet of wide-body passenger jets in the world, with 194, most of which are current-model Boeing 777s.   

Emirates 777 An Emirates Airline Boeing 777-300ER taking off from New York's JFK airport. Photo: Alberto Riva