Airbus officials were expecting to win a big deal from Emirates at the Dubai air show for its mid-sized A350 after Emirates had canceled an order for 70 in 2014.
President and CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes, Kevin McAllister, said the aircraft - the largest model in the 787 family and one of which is on the static display - had a range that would bring 85% of the world's population within reach of Emirates' Dubai hub. It has firm orders for another 46 jets.
"This is a long-term commitment that supports hundreds of thousands of jobs, not only at Boeing but also throughout the aviation supply chain", Sheikh Ahmed said.
"Emirates' orders today will be delivered from 2022, taking the airline well into the 2030s", he said in a statement. "We always take the future into consideration and what is happening in the UAE".
Baku-based Azerbaijan Airlines is already a 787-8 customer with two of the type in its fleet.
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The 544-seat jet entered service amid huge fanfare in 2007, but its future has been thrown into doubt by sluggish sales as airlines turn to efficient smaller jets like the Boeing 777, of which Emirates is also the largest buyer.
That deal may still ago ahead after the hammering out of final details, a source within the industry said.
The importance of the order was underlined by the presence of the vice-president and prime minister of the UAE, and ruler of the Emirate of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, at the announcement.
On Thursday, Emirates said its half year net profit rebounded strongly from a slump last year due to cost saving measures and favourable exchange rates.