(Reuters) - Emirates is closing in on a widely anticipated deal to buy a revamped version of Boeing’s (BA.N) 777 passenger jet but still has “a lot of work to do” in negotiations on the price, the airline’s president was quoted on Thursday as saying.
“We spent the summer working through the technical side of the airplane and from what I can see, it looks very good,” Tim Clark told aviation publication Flightglobal in an interview.
“We will now look at the pricing and commercial aspects. So far so good, but there’s still a lot of work to do,” he said.
Dubai’s Emirates EMIRA.UL is the largest operator of Boeing’s twin-engined 777 jetliner and is looking at a more fuel efficient version dubbed 777X that Boeing plans to introduce around 2020.
The airline says it will eventually need to replace 175 current-generation 777s and most industry analysts expect it to order a significant share of those at November’s Dubai air show. Germany’s Lufthansa (LHAG.DE) signed up for the jet last week.
Clark said a deal would happen “when it suits us - it may be the Dubai air show, but if we’re not ready, we won’t be doing it.”
He also told the publication the plane’s new General Electric (GE.N) GE9X engines would need a special system of water cooling to work efficiently in the Gulf’s summer heat.
Without this, it would not deliver significant benefits over the current 777 model in extremely hot weather.
Boeing reaffirmed it aimed to launch the 777X by the end of the year and put it into service around the end of the decade.
“The business case is maturing as planned as we gain further insights from our customers and develop our design and production system strategies,” a spokesman said by email.
On the issue of engine cooling, he said, “It is premature to discuss specific technologies or design decisions at this point as the airplane is still in early development.”
A GE spokesman said it had nothing to add to Clark’s discussion of the possible water-injection cooling system.
Reporting by Tim Hepher, Alwyn Scott; Editing by David Evans and Ken Wills