Dubai carrier Emirates has firmed up an $16bn order for 36 Airbus A380s announced last month.
The airline said on Sunday evening it had signed a contract for the planes, which includes 20 aircraft and 16 options, following the previous memorandum of understanding.
Emirates is by far the largest operator of the superjumbo and the new orders bring its A380 commitment to 178 aircraft worth more than $60bn. Of these 101 have been received and are in service.
Deliveries for the new order will begin in 2020 and Emirates has yet to decide on GE or Rolls-Royce engines.
his agreement underscores our commitment to the A380 programme, providing stability to the A380 production line and supporting tens of thousands of high-value jobs across the aviation supply chain,” said HH Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, chairman and CEO of Emirate Airline and Group.
“For Emirates, the A380 has been a successful aircraft for our customers, our operations, and our brand. We look forward to continue working with Airbus to further enhance the aircraft and onboard product.”
The commitment follows warnings from Airbus prior to the January memorandum that it could scrap the superjumbo programme if it did not receive a sizeable order from Emirates.
Outgoing Airbus sales chief John Leahy said in January the Emirates MoU would see the french manufacturer produce the A380 for “at least another 10 years” and possibly “well into the 2030s” if more orders follow.
StrategicAero Research chief analyst Saj Ahmad said most of the new jets would replace vintage A380s build in 2008 as they come off lease.
“While there’ll be limited growth added as a result of these extra A380s coming to the fleet, the bigger challenge remains the programme’s viability for the future,” he said.
“As a machine, the A380 is fast losing technological and performance ground to new game-changing and smaller jets like the 787 and soon-to-arrive 777X family, of which Emirates is the biggest buyer. This has also put buyers off from investing in the A380.