Emirates hands A380 superjumbo a lifeline with $16 billion order

Posted January 21, 2018

Airbus took no orders on the A380 in 2017 and plans to cut production to eight aircraft a year by next year, down from 27 in 2015.

Airbus is in talks to sell new A380 superjumbo planes to British Airways this year after securing a program-saving deal from Arabian Gulf operator Emirates, according to people familiar with the matter.

Emirates Airline has broken the Airbus A380 order drought with a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to purchase up to 36 of the world's largest passenger aircraft.

The carrier said it struck a deal with Airbus to buy 20 of its A380 double-decker jets, with the option to buy 16 more, in a deal worth $US16 billion ($NZ21.9 billion). "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", Al Maktoum said.

Emirates may have just saved the Airbus A380.

The airline said that it will use some of its new A380s as fleet replacements. "This order will provide stability to the A380 production line [and] we will continue to work closely with Airbus to further enhance the aircraft and onboard product ... 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". Airbus delivered just 15 of the planes last year, and aims to deliver 12 more this year.

The Airbus A380 was pitched as the future of airline travel when it appeared on the market over a decade ago. The carrier already has 101 A380s in its fleet and had already ordered another 41.

The world's largest passenger aircraft has struggled for sales in recent years, with carriers preferring twin-engine variants to serve their long-haul routes.

Earlier this week, Airbus confirmed a Reuters report that the A380's survival lay with Emirates, saying it would have "no choice" but to close production if the Emirates deal fell through despite interest in smaller orders from others.

The Dubai based airline has stated that with the placement of new order for double decker aircrafts, its commitment with Airbus for purchasing 178 A380 superjumbo aircrafts will amount to United States dollars 60 billion. If Airbus indeed sticks to a six-per-year production rate, now that a potential 131 A380s are in backlog, production could carry on an additional 18.5 years beyond 2020, to 2038-another two decades.

"I am not pleased with the ramp down but this is controlled". Half of those came from Emirates.