Emirates, the largest operator of wide-body aircraft, signed a contract on Sunday firmed a preliminary $16 billion order for 20 A380 aircraft and options for 16 more.
"This agreement underscores our commitment to the A380 programme, providing stability to the A380 production line and supporting tens of thousands of high-value jobs across the aviation supply chain," Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed, chairman and chief executive of Emirates airline and the group said.
Toulouse-headquartered Airbus was unable to lock in an agreement with Emirates to buy additional A380s at the Dubai Airshow last November. Instead, the Dubai-based carrier opted to buy 40 Boeing Dreamliner 787-10 jets in a deal valued at $15.1bn.
Emirates, which has invested billions of dollars to establish a transportation hub in Dubai, had demanded Airbus commit to a production timeline of at least a decade due to a lack of traction from other carriers for the aircraft and the absence of a secondary market for the jet.
In January, the two parties reached a breakthrough and announced the agreement. The new order brings Emirates' commitment to the A380 programme to 178 aircraft, worth over $60bn. Emirates has 101 A380s in operation. The additional A380s will be delivered to Emirates from 2020 onwards. The airline is evaluating engine options for its latest A380 order.
The first double-decker to go into operation in 2007 as part of Singapore Airlines' fleet was retired in June of last year and destined for the scrapyard in the absence of a new operator. Airbus had not been able to sell an A380 in over two years and had conceded prior to its agreement with Emirates that it was considering shutting down the programme if a deal with the carrier wasn't reached.
“This latest agreement further demonstrates the strength of our valued partnership with Emirates in support of their impressive growth,” said Fabrice Bregier, Airbus president commercial aircraft and chief operating officer.
Emirates is the largest operator of Airbus A380s and Boeing 777 aircraft in the world. The carrier operates a mixed fleet of 269 wide-bodied aircraft that fly to 157 destinations globally.