DUBAI, (Reuters) – Dubai’s Emirates Airlines said on Saturday it may lease as many as seven Boeing aircraft to plug a gap of nearly 2 years in the delivery of the Airbus A380, of which it is the largest customer.
Emirates, which won’t receive its first A380 until August 2008, may lease between 5 and 7 Boeing 777-300 ERs in the next few days, an airline spokeswoman said, confirming remarks from Emirates chief executive Tim Clark in newspaper reports.
“(Emirates) will probably acquire five or seven more 777-300ERs in the next few days for delivery in the second half of 2008,” Clark said.
By the time it is now scheduled to receive its first delivery, Emirates had expected to have 18 of the 555-seat A380s.
Clark said the delay is a “big dent” in the expansion plans of Emirates, the largest Arab carrier. But the A380 order “is intact” despite the delay, he said.
The Dubai-government owned Emirates, which has 43 A380’s on order, said on Thursday it was considering acquiring aircraft to plug the gap in capacity caused by the A380 delay.
Airbus, controlled by European aerospace group EADS said last month the A380 would be delayed for a third time because of wiring installation problems.
Emirates plans to use the A380 on routes between Asia and Europe and North America, challenging Asian carriers.