Dubai carrier Emirates has announced an order for 36 Airbus A380s worth $16bn at list prices days after the manufacturer warned it could scrap the programme.
Airbus executives warned in a conference call this week that the company would have no choice but to shutdown production of the superjumbo if a deal with Emirates was not reached.
The memorandum of understanding, confirmed on Thursday, includes 20 firm orders and 16 options. Emirates said it was evaluating engine options.
The additional aircraft will be delivered from 2020 onwards and bring the carrier’s A380 commitment to 178 aircraft. Some will be used as fleet replacements, Emirates said.
The Dubai carrier is by far the largest operator of superjumbos worldwide having already taken on more than 100 deliveries with a mixture of GE and Rolls-Royce engines.
“This deal reflects Emirates’ confidence in shaping the future, and its commitment to advancing Dubai’s vision to grow further as a world-class destination and aviation hub,” said UAE Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum.
The deal represents a coup for outgoing Airbus sales chief John Leahy, who signed the MoU alongside Emirates chairman Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum.
It also ends months of speculation after Airbus and Emirates failed to reach an agreement at November’s Dubai Airshow due to the carrier’s output concerns.
Leahy said the order would ensure Airbus’ commitment to produce the A380 for “at least 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,” he said.
Sheikh Ahmed said the carrier had “made no secret” of the fact that the A380 had 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,” he added.
“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.”