Emirates has thrown a lifeline to the Airbus A380 with a massive order for 36 superjumbos.
Worth US$16 billion at list price – although the Gulf colossus would have struck quite a discount on the sticker price, likely well below the estimated 40% discount which applies to most aircraft from Airbus and Boeing – the contract comes on top of Emirates' 101-strong A380 fleet and a current backlog for 41 more of the double-decker jets.
Some of the new A380s, which will begin to be delivered from 2020, will be replacements for the oldest superjumbos, the airline says.
It's not known if these new orders will encompass an upgraded version of the superjumbo – dubbed the A380plus – which adds fuel-saving winglets and room for 80 more passengers.
A lack of orders had cast doubts on the future of the A380 program, but Emirates' commitment will allow the production of what is currently the world's largest commercial jetliner to continue "at least for another ten years," observed Airbus exec John Leahy.
"I’m personally convinced more orders will follow Emirates’ example and that this great aircraft will be built well into the 2030s.”
Already by far the biggest A380 customer, Emirates had repeatedly stalled on the follow-on deal, putting the future of the double-decker in doubt after it failed to win any new orders for two years.