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Emirates has saved the superjumbo Airbus A380 from its impending doom. On Thursday, the Dubai-based carrier announced that it’s signed a Memorandum of Understanding an order for up to 36 of the A380s, a deal worth $16 billion.
Emirates’ announcement comes less than four days after Airbus’ sales chief said that production of the aircraft would come to a halt if it didn’t get an order from Emirates.
As part of this announcement, Emirates has officially placed a firm order for 20 of the aircraft, which are scheduled to begin delivery in 2020. It also has options to buy a further 16 A380s.
The Airbus A380, once considered the future of aviation, has struggled mightily in recent years. Not only have orders decreased, but production has slowed. According to BBC, just a few years ago, Airbus produced 27 of the A380s annually. In 2018, that number will drop to 12. And in 2019, it’s expected to deliver just eight of the sumperjumbos.
Emirates is the largest customer of the A380. It currently has 101 of the aircraft in its fleet and 41 more firm orders that had previously been placed. In November, it took delivery of its 100th A380. The carrier was expected to place a new order for A380s at the Dubai Air Show in September, however, it opted to place an order for 40 Boeing 787 Dreamliners instead.
“We’ve made no secret of the fact that the A380 has been a success for Emirates,” said HH Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Emirates’ chairman and chief executive. “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. 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 beauty of this aircraft is that the technology and real estate on board gives us plenty of room to do something different with the interiors.”
This order won’t necessarily save the A380 for good. But, Airbus said that Emirates’ order underscores its commitment to produce the aircraft 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,” said John Leahy, Airbus’ chief operating officer customers for commercial aircraft.
Thursday’s order from Emirates represents a lifeline for the A380. But, after this order has been fulfilled, it still remains unclear what the future holds for the superjumbo. Check out TPG reviews from first class and business class on Emirates’ A380.
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