Emirates Airline president Tim Clark said he would be “surprised” if the Boeing 737 MAX is flying globally “before Christmas.”

“It is going to take time to get it back in the air,” Clark said on the sidelines of the IATA AGM in Seoul June 2. “Boeing should accept that it is not going to work unless they get all regulators onboard. That would antagonize a lot of people.”

Dubai-based Emirates is an all-widebody airline and does not operate the MAX, but its sister carrier, FlyDubai, had taken delivery of 14 aircraft before the global grounding. FlyDubai also has 104 737-8s, 91 -10s and 42 -9s on firm order.

Clark believes that the United Arab Emirates (UAE) civil aviation authority will “take guidance” from principal players like EASA as well as regulators in Canada and China as it moves forward on the MAX service re-entry.

Separately, Clark said Emirates would stick to its large commitment for Boeing 787-10s in spite of its recent decision to also order Airbus A330-900s and A350-900s.

The airline had displayed the Airbus commitment in its most recent annual report, but not the 787s deal, leading to speculation about the Boeing deal.

Emirates announced a preliminary order for 40 787-10s at the 2017 Dubai Air Show but has not yet turned it into a firm order. When the airline revised its previous large commitment for more Airbus A380s, it opted for 40 A330-900s and 30 A350-900s. Emirates said in 2017 that it would start taking delivery of the 787s from 2022. The A330neos are to arrive from 2021 and the A350s from 2024.

As it gradually de-emphasizes the role of the A380s, Emirates will use the smaller widebodies for “ultra-long-haul routes from Dubai that cannot be justified with the 777X or A380. There are a lot more cities that we can do in the US, India and Africa with a 250-seater,” Clark said.

Clark pointed out that the A380s still provide “enormous market pull” and are operated at very high load factors in the premium cabins in particular. “We will continue to invest in them and fly them into the mid-2030s,” he said.

Jens Flottau, jens.flottau@aviationweek.com