The French aircraft manufacturer, Airbus has today announced the future of its A380 superjumbo has been secured with a huge $16 billion order from Emirates, the worlds largest operator of the aircraft. Only days ago, Airbus’ head of sales John Leahy had warned: “If we can’t work out a deal with Emirates, there is no choice but to shut down the programme.”
But at a ceremony held in Dubai, parties from both Emirates and Airbus gathered today to sign a memorandum of understanding, committing the airline to 20 firm orders and options for 16 more. The deal for all 36 aircraft would set Emirates back $16 billion at list prices.
Due for delivery from 2020 onwards, the new order takes Emirates’ number of A380’s to 178 – although some of the new aircraft will be used as part of a fleet renewal programme. Last year Emirates celebrated the 100th delivery of the iconic jet and ten years since its first delivery.
The airline currently operates a fleet of 101 A380’s and estimates that nearly 900 million passengers have flown on its flagship aircraft. A further 41 A380’s from past orders are still to be delivered by Airbus.
The new order is the first time in over two years than an airline has committed to purchasing the A380. Production of the aircraft has dwindled at Airbus facilities as Leahy and his team struggled to find new customers.
Airbus had initially expected to seal a deal with Emirates at the Dubai Air Show last year but the airline instead made a surprise announcement, awarding a $15.1 billion USD contract to Boeing for 40 787-10 Dreamliners.
At today’s ceremony, Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, the chairman of Emirates said: “We’ve made no secret of the fact that the A380 has been a success for Emirates. Our customers love it, and we’ve been able to deploy it on different missions across our network, giving us flexibility in terms of range and passenger mix.”
Commenting on the underlining politics surrounding the deal, Sheikh Ahmed continued:
“Some of the new A380s we’ve just ordered will be used as fleet replacements. This order will provide stability to the A380 production line. We will continue to work closely with Airbus to further enhance the aircraft and onboard product, so as to offer our passengers the best possible experience.”
The deal will be seen as a major coup for John Leahy who is soon to retire as Airbus’ head of sales. He thanked Emirates for the order and confirmed Airbus had committed to continuing production of the A380 for at least 10 more years. He claims more airlines will now follow Emirates in ordering the aircraft.
Emirates has utilised the aircraft to great effect in building its ‘hub and spoke’ business model – connecting Dubai with nearly two-thirds of humanity. At the same time, however, other airlines have favoured smaller and more fuel-efficient aircraft for point-to-point services.
Later this year, the Australian carrier, Qantas will start the worlds first direct flight between Australia and Europe, utilising the Boeing 787 Dreamliner.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.