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Emirates Chief Says Boeing’s Dreamliner Stretch May Be Too Small

Emirates President Tim Clark said the stretched version of the Boeing Co. Dreamliner unveiled today may lack the capacity to satisfy its fleet requirements.

The 787-10, for which Boeing has been drumming up orders at the Paris Air Show, might not meet the needs of the world’s largest international airline given operational constraints at its Dubai hub, Clark said in an interview.

Emirates pushed for a larger 787 during the Dreamliner’s development and refrained from orders when Boeing opted to build the smaller -8 and -9 variants first. The average size of the Gulf carrier’s planes has been swollen by record numbers of Airbus SAS A380 superjumbos and Boeing 777s, while Dubai International airport is reaching its capacity limits.

“We’ll certainly study the 787-10, but it could be a tad small for us,” Clark said in Paris, where he’s attending the world’s biggest aviation expo. The model would need to have a range of 4,000 nautical miles (7,400 kilometers) and be able to carry a 50-ton load to come into the reckoning for Emirates, he said.

There may be more scope to add Dreamliners once the airline moves to the bigger Dubai World Central airport, removing capacity hurdles, Clark said. The largest Dreamliner seats about 330 passengers, compared with 368 passengers on the 777-300ER, of which Emirates is the biggest operator.

Emirates also has orders for 70 Airbus A350s, the model developed by the European company when carriers pressed to a response to the 787 targeted at a higher seating range.

A380 Block

“In the days when we placed the A350 order, the Dreamliner was too small,” Clark said. “The 787-10 wasn’t launched and the -8 and -9 were no good for us.”

The first flight of the new Airbus A35-900 last week “looked fine,” Clark said. “It stayed up there for four hours and didn’t come racing back,” he said. “They exceeded their expectations.”

Emirates is unlikely to be able to add further Airbus A380s to the world’s biggest superjumbo fleet until a scarcity of specially designed boarding gates at its current base is resolved, and perhaps not until a firm timetable for the move to Dubai World has been set, the executive said.

Clark said he’s eager for Boeing to press ahead with a commitment to build an upgraded 777 plane, its largest twin-engine airliner, to help meet a requirement for the replacement of existing aircraft and the development of routes spanning as many as 20 hours.

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