Emirates Casts Doubt on Aircraft Orders Worth Tens of Billions

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(Bloomberg) --

Gulf airline Emirates said it’s unable to commit to outstanding aircraft orders in light of the coronavirus crisis, casting doubt over a backlog worth tens of billions of dollars to Boeing Co. and Airbus SE.

“All bets are off,” Tim Clark, the Dubai-based carrier’s president, said in a online forum Monday. “We are nowhere near confident enough that the economics, the cash flows, the bottom line will put us in a good position to be able to guess if we’ll buy a hundred of this or a hundred of that.”

Emirates ranks as the world’s largest long-haul carrier and had unfilled orders for more than 200 jets at the end of March, comprising Boeing 777s and 787s, Airbus A350s, and the last few A380 superjumbos. Grounding existing aircraft is not always an option since they may be encumbered by leases and other debt, and the carrier’s focus is on getting those planes flying again, he said.

Aircraft manufacturers are aware that airlines have to “keep cash where it needs to be” and have understand that they may need to push back or even cancel orders, Clark said in the Arabian Travel Market webinar. “This is about surviving the present.”

Emirates is seeking to cancel its last A380 orders and is considering accelerating the retirement of its older superjumbos, Bloomberg reported previously. The executive said the model still has a future with the carrier and will come into its own again in a few years.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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