Emirates boss lays into Boeing for plane delivery delays: ‘Listen to the workers’

Late planes: Emirates Boeing 777 taking off from Dubai International Airport (Emirates)
Late planes: Emirates Boeing 777 taking off from Dubai International Airport (Emirates)

The president of Emirates has urged the giant planemaker Boeing to “listen to the workers”.

Sir Tim Clark, widely regarded as the world’s top aviation leader, has also revealed he has “been worried by the Boeing governance model for many years”.

The Emirates president Sir Tim was speaking to the magazine of the International Air Transport Association (Iata), Airlines, ahead of the organisation’s annual general meeting in Dubai.

Boeing’s manufacturing process have been under intense scrutiny by the two key US agencies, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).

In January a door plug burst out of an Alaska Airlines Boeing 737 Max as it climbed on a flight from Portland, Oregon. The incident followed two fatal crashes of the latest variant of the 737 Max and its subsequent global grounding.

Emirates does not fly these smaller planes, but has a long order book for new wide-bodied Boeing aircraft.

Sir Tim said: “We have a huge $50bn-plus order for Boeing 777s and 787s. We have big plans for the future and have to be tough on those partners with whom we have agreements in place.

“The delays we are seeing – I don’t expect us to get our first new B777 before 2026 – mean we must retain and refurbish our existing 777s.

“I have been worried by the Boeing governance model for many years. They have undergone personnel changes but there needs to be a strong engineering background in its leadership and operational model.

“We had the same thing at Airbus with the A380. There were two IT systems that didn’t speak to each other, and it was the engineers on the floor that sorted that out.”

Speaking last Thursday 30 May, Stephanie Pope, president and CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes, said: “Our plan is built on the feedback of our employees who know best how to design, build and deliver safe, high-quality airplanes.

“We also incorporated the requirements and feedback from our regulator and welcomed the recommendations from our customers and industry experts.

“Based on that feedback, our roadmap includes major investments to expand and enhance workforce training, simplify manufacturing plans and processes, eliminate defects at the source, and elevate our safety and quality culture, along with specific measures to monitor and manage the health of our production system.

“We are confident in the plan that we have put forward and are committed to continuously improving. We are also grateful for our customers’ patience as we implement this plan and return to predictable deliveries.”

Ryanair cancelled some flights this summer after learning it will only receive 40 of the 57 planned Boeing 737 Max deliveries before the end of June.