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.
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.
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.