UAE-based airline Emirates has disclosed that it reached an agreement with European plane maker Airbus to acquire A380 superjumbo jets numbering 20 with an option of buying 16 more at a later date. This comes in the wake of reports suggesting that the future of the double-decker plane was in danger owing to weak sales. Last week the sales chief of Airbus, John Leahy, revealed that production of the superjumbo jet could be ended in a few years in the event that new orders were not forthcoming.
Currently Emirates has A380s totaling 101 already in its fleet while it had ordered 41 more. The new deal is worth approximately $16 billion. The list price of one A380 is $445.6 million though the price can be lowered through negotiations. According to analysts the deal will benefit both Emirates and Airbus.
“It’s positive news for both sides. The A380 is critical to Emirates’ hub-and-growth strategy and equally the airline is key to Airbus’ continuation of the program. It will be a great relief to Airbus to have secured this order,” said John Strickland an airline analyst at JLS Consulting.
The largest customer of A380 is Emirates by a huge stretch. Additionally Emirates is also the top customer in the world for Boeing’s wide-body plane, the 777. The 777 and the A380 form the backbone the UAE-based airline’s fleet as it allows Emirates to provide a long-haul schedule that is robust from its Dubai hub.
Luxury in the air
But it is the A380 that is closely associated with Emirates and the airline has used it to maximum effect especially with regards to marketing its services to high-end travelers. In some of its superjumbo jets, Emirates offer showers to its passengers in the first-class cabin. The first-class seats on the superjumbo jets operated by the Gulf carrier also possess sliding doors which are capable of turning the space occupied by passengers into private suites.
Depending on the configuration of the seat the A380s that Emirates operates have a capacity of between 489 and 615 passengers. In a new version which is being developed the Boeing 777 will have a seating capacity of up to 400. Emirates’ A380s uses engines from both Rolls-Royce and Engine Alliance.
Before the new deal talks between Emirates and Airbus had broken down last year in November during the Dubai Airshow. The future looked even more precarious when Emirates went on to make an order from Boeing of smaller aircraft – the 787s.