Production of the Airbus A380 will continue after Emirates confirmed an order for 20 A380s and an option for 16 more.
Dubai-based Emirates confirmed the order on Thursday following lengthy negotiations with Airbus, whose sales chief John Leahy said this week: “If we can’t work out a deal with Emirates there is no choice but to shut down the [A380] programme.”
Emirates had been expected to confirm the order at the Dubai air show in November, but instead announced a large Boeing 787 order.
The Gulf carrier already has 101 A380s, with 41 more on order.
Airbus had not won an order for the aircraft for two years and announced a cut back in production of the A380 last year.
It plans to produce just 12 A380s this year, eight in 2019 and six a year after that. The deal with Airbus should keep the aircraft in production for another decade.
The four-engine, 500-plus seat A380 needs to fly at full capacity to be efficient and there are concerns about the aircraft’s re-sale value.
But analysts warned that ending production would make the A380s in service more expensive to operate and maintain.
Airbus is likely to have given Emirates a significant discount on the $16-billion list price of the aircraft, which will be delivered from 2020, three years earlier than originally planned.
Leahy said: “Emirates is committing to the programme for the long term and plans to take six airplanes a year for nine to 10 years.” He added: “There will definitely be another A380 order this year.”
Emirates President Tim Clark said: “The A380 is good to go.” However, the airline said it had yet to decide on the engine supplier.
The last A380 order by an airline other than Emirates was in 2015 by ANA of Japan, which ordered three.
Analysts suggested Airbus would be unlikely to break even on the costs of A380 production despite the new order.
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