This Thursday, January 18th Emirates, announced that it signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Airbus for 36 A380s valued at a list price of US$16 billion, with the order comprised of 20 aircraft orders plus 16 options. Deliveries are planned to start from 2020 and will supplement the current fleet of 101 aircraft and the backlog of 41 aircraft yet to be delivered, bringing the planned fleet to an impressive total of 178 aircraft.
The A380 program’s future has been full of uncertainty the past few years, with Airbus failing to secure a long-speculated order from the Gulf carrier at last year’s Dubai Airshow. Airbus’s head of sales John Leahy had threatened to shut down the A380 program if no fresh orders were made: the last proper order for the Superjumbo was two years ago when ANA (All Nippon Airways) of Japan ordered only three aircraft in January 2016.
With production now expected to extend to 2030, Emirates effectively saved the program for another decade. In the meantime, Airbus must convince more carriers to consider the aircraft as a viable, flexible option for their fleets in order to further secure the line in the long term. Although Emirates is Airbus’s biggest A380 partner, with the airline currently operating half of the world’s A380s in service, their relationship may not be as sustainable if no other carriers express interest in the programme. This comes as HH Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman and Chief Executive of Emirates stated that the order “will provide stability to the A380 production line,” adding that the some of the delivered aircraft shall only function as “fleet replacements.”
Featured photo by Akshay Mantri.