Agree with you both; was thinking the same myself. Unless the B777X order is to replace their B77W fleet, which is stretching it given timescales, then I just don't see EK's growth being sufficient to be able to utilise such large scale aircraft. This given increasing competition from emerging markets, LCC airlines, plus legacies taking deliveries of aircraft which can overfly the Middle East and thus take Emirates's traffic, like they once did to others, including many of these same said legacies.
I see EK being interested in such a move but what's in it for Boeing?
Boeing is doing pretty well on the B787 backlog, they have a steady production and good demand. The B77X on the other hand is still in development and not many airlines have shown appetite for the type. Why should Boeing give up B787 slots that they could sell anyway for B77X slots that they'll have a hard time selling? Also, a decrease in orders from EK after the one from LH will put the B77X right next to the A380 in the category of "unsellables" before it even rolls off the production line.
It only makes sense in one way.
If I were Boeing, I'd be selling EK B787's without accepting any B777X cancellations. They have no choice anyway, can't squeeze 10 abreast on the XWB, which is too much aircraft anyway.
Boeing is doing well in cutting down the 787 backlog, but orders do not come in fast enough to sustain a 12 frame per month production.
Over ten years, from 2007 to now 2017 the yearly order intake for the 787 has been on average 46 frames per year. Over the last five years the order intake has been 84 frames per year. That would sustain a production rate of 7 frames a month.
I think it is a dream of Boeing fans, that the 777-9 will replace A380 at EK. The ordered 777-8/9 will replace 777-200LR/300ER at EK.
The A380 coming of leasing will be replaced by A380, at least in the foreseeable future. Replacing A380 with 777 at a necessary rate of 3 777 for every 2 A380, would put a huge strain on the need to find additional crew.
A canceling of EK 777-8/9 orders would have catastrophic effect on the 777-8/9 program.
I do not believe that EK will convert 777 orders to 787 orders, but if EK wants to do that, Boeing will have to accept that, the alternative would be EK canceling the 777 and taking A350.
The B787 backlog is being pushed lower but they still have 750 frames to build. That's a 6 year backlog, which puts them all the way into 2023. That's impressive considering that they're about to hit 600 built airframes. If they can rack up 50 orders a year, that pushes the backlog problem all the way into 2026 and that's without any need for a single order from Dubai. If we consider widebody programs as being cycles of 15-20 years, the B787's program cycle looks pretty complete.
Now the big worry is on the B777X.
I can see Boeing give generous terms in terms of launch pricing, but not in terms of cancellations. They have seen EK cancel their A350 orders and that's just something that they can't afford to let happen on their program.
Remember that EK is not the only one in line to cancel. Their cousins in AUH must be itching to do the same, while let's not even talk about what must be going through AAB's mind.
The B777X is almost 2 years away and its backlog is just worth 3 years at full production rate. Any significant cancellations or "conversions" at this point could see Boeing lose the market above the B787.
It makes one wonder whether it still makes sense to develop the B777X if all their customers want to cancel and move to something smaller.
If we take a long-term view, developping a higher gross weight B787-11 seems like the smarter option. The B777X will be dead by 2025 and Boeing will have nothing bigger than a B787-10 at that point. A B787-11 would seem like a smarter investment.
Thre was a topic a while ago: viewtopic.php?t=525879
Are Boeing already past the PNR? If they're going to have to develop a B787-11 in the future anyway, why not ditch the B777X, write-off the program cost incured until now (should be manageable) and put the rest of the money into a proper higher gross weight B787 family to compete more directly with the A350XWB.
Let's be honest with ourselves, the B77W is a dinosaur compared to the B787 and A350, and no amount of wingspan, fan diameter or flashy interiors is going to make the B777X any quieter than the B77W.