Emirates Airline will be the first operator of the Boeing 777X and expects to take delivery of the first aircraft in early 2020, Emirates president Tim Clark says.

The delivery, which a Boeing spokesperson confirmed, means that Emirates will skip ahead of 777X launch customer Lufthansa and become the widebody’s launch operator.

“I believe we will be the first to receive the aircraft in early 2020.It will replace the 777-300ER as they retire,” Clark wrote in an email to ATW.

Lufthansa ordered 34 777-9X in September, 2013, with deliveries anticipated between 2020 and 2025.

At the Dubai Air Show in November 2013, Emirates and the two other major Gulf carriers each announced commitments for large numbers of 777Xs – Emirates for 150 aircraft plus 50 purchase rights, Etihad Airways for 25, and Qatar Airways for 50.

Dubai-based Emirates finalized its order, for 115 777-9Xs and 35 longer-range 777-8Xs, in July, 2014. The order, valued at $56 billion at 2014 list prices, was part of the largest product launch in commercial jetliner history. If all options are confirmed, the value of the deal could increase to around $75 billion.

“Lufthansa is one of the launch customers of the 777X. Which airline gets the very first aircraft is a question for Boeing,” a Lufthansa spokesperson in Frankfurt told ATW.

Kurt Hofmann hofmann.aviation@netway