Dubai’s Emirates Airline, the world’s fourth largest carrier, said Thursday it has signed an initial agreement with Airbus SE to buy 20 A380 aircrafts worth $16 billion with an option to buy 16 more, making the Dubai-based company the first to order the new A380 aircrafts after it commenced production two years ago.
The deal thus brings the Airbus airplanes bought by Emirates to a total of 178 A380 aircraft and marks a critical win that will salvage the super-jumbo jet programme.
John Leahy, chief operating officer of Airbus SE had initially said that
A380 program risks shutdown if it fails to get a long-sought order for 36 to 38 A380 aircraft from Emirates airlines.
The deliveries, expected to start in 2020, will guarantee production of the plane for at least another decade, Leahy said.
“This new order underscores Airbus’ commitment to producing the A380 at least for another 10 years. I’m personally convinced more orders will follow Emirates’ example and that this great aircraft will be built well into the 2030s,” Leahy noted in a statement.
The deal repairs the setback in November when an expected order for 36 Airbus from Emirates did not materialise at the Dubai air show.
The agreement was signed with Emirates’ chairman, Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, who said the Dubai airline would use some of the aircraft for fleet replacements, adding that the carrier will work with Airbus “to further enhance the aircraft and onboard product.”
Emirates started operating the A380 in 2008 and received its 100th model in November — out of 222 delivered to 13 airlines to date.
Sheikh Ahmed said the aircraft — the world’s largest commercial passenger jet was the “best way to capture” growing air traffic, which is doubling every 15 years.
According to experts, the reasons for the slow sales of the superjumbo planes is the high maintenance costs, airport modifications and cost of the aircraft itself which stands at $446 million per unit.