Airbus A380 saved by new $16B deal

Workers celebrate the completion of the Airbus A380 which was hugely delayed and over-budget

Workers celebrate the completion of the Airbus A380 which was hugely delayed and over-budgetMARTIN ROSE GETTY IMAGES

Persian Gulf carrier Emirates, already the biggest A-380 customer, signed an outline agreement for 20 of the double-deckers with an option to buy 16 more, the Dubai-based company said yesterday, handing Airbus its first orders for the flagship model in more than two years.

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.

Emirates is by far the largest operator of the 544-seat superjumbo, with 101 now in service and a backlog of 41 already on order before the latest announcement.

Emirates chairman and chief executive Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum said the order "will provide stability to the A380 production line".

Instead, Emirates inked a deal to buy 40 Boeing Dreamliners for more than $15 billion.

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Emirates' fleet relies exclusively on the Airbus 380 and the Boeing 777 for its flights."We've made no secret of the fact that the A380 has been a success for Emirates", the airline's chairman and chief executive Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al-Maktoum said.

During the A380's pre-launch activities, it was then-boss Noël Forgeard who was front of house in the global lobbying effort to secure signed "letters of interest" from potential customers.

On January 15, 2018, Airbus announced delivery figures across its product range, with a total of 718 aircraft delivered to 85 customers.

It said it regarded Emirates as the only airline with the capacity to place an order of the size required to keep production going. In recent years, it hasn't been needed, because airlines have focused on using smaller, more fuel-efficient aircraft to carry passengers, often on direct routes between secondary airports.

On Thursday, Leahy seemed relieved that Airbus' strategy of staring down Emirates appeared to have paid off, saying the programme was now good to go on for at least another decade.

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"The A380 is an iconic aircraft and today's deal underlines Airbus's commitment to its production over the long term".

Emirates Airlines has a fleet of 269 wide-bodied aircraft and flies to 157 destinations.

Airbus said it has delivered 222 A380s to 13 airlines so far. Of the 317 A380 orders Airbus had taken as of the end of 2017, 142 were from Emirates.

"Without it, production would likely have been terminated", Strickland said.

Calling time on the A380 would not have caused major financial damage to Airbus, but would have been "emotionally expensive", a company source said.

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