Aircraft

Emirates throws world's largest passenger aircraft a lifeline

Emirates throws world's larges...
The Emirates Airline order saves the A380 from ceasing production
The Emirates Airline order saves the A380 from ceasing production
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An A380 at the 2017 Dubai Air Show
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An A380 at the 2017 Dubai Air Show
For airlines such as Emirates, the A380 cabin maximizes profitability – with the aircraft’s optimized, segmented interior layout boosting profit
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For airlines such as Emirates, the A380 cabin maximizes profitability – with the aircraft’s optimized, segmented interior layout boosting profit
Emirates has the world's largest A380 fleet
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Emirates has the world's largest A380 fleet
The Emirates Airline order saves the A380 from ceasing production
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The Emirates Airline order saves the A380 from ceasing production
Emirates has agreed to buy 36 more A380s
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Emirates has agreed to buy 36 more A380s
Signing the Memorandum of Understanding in Dubai
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Signing the Memorandum of Understanding in Dubai

The Airbus 380, the world's largest passenger airliner, has been saved from extinction by a dramatic last minute order by Emirates. After weeks of industry speculation as to whether production of the giant double-decker plane would cease due to insufficient demand, on January 18 Dubai-based Emirates Airline publicly signed a Memorandum of Understanding to purchase 36 additional aircraft, allowing the line to continue.

First introduced in 2007, the A380 was touted as the airliner of the future. The four-engine, long-haul aircraft was larger than the earlier Boeing 747, with two decks that ran the length of the fuselage to provide 40 percent more floor space than the 747-8. Airbus considered it the answer to airport congestion, but early delays and light order books soon brought into question the future of the Airbus A380 line.

These questions became particularly acute on Monday when Airbus CEO John Leahy said at a press conference that production of the A380 could soon come to an end unless new orders could be confirmed that would allow for the construction of at least six of the US$446 million planes that seat up to 853 passengers per flight.

Emirates has the world's largest A380 fleet
Emirates has the world's largest A380 fleet

According to industry analysts, the problems with the A380 stem from competition with the Boeing 787 Dreamliner that, though it is a smaller aircraft, is seen as more comfortable and provides more frequent flights per day that are easier to fill rather than a few huge A380 loads that aren't as easy to fully book.

This was regarded as having a knock-on effect because a large part of a passenger liner's worth is wrapped up in its resale value. An A380 that has been well looked after for a decade by a top-tier airline can recoup a lot of its initial sticker price, but not if there isn't much demand for the craft in the first place.

Thursday's signing at Emirate Airline's Dubai headquarters by Leahy and Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman and Chief Executive of Emirates Airline and Group, for 20 A380s and an option for 16 more worth US$16 billion dollars is still more of a lifeline than a guarantee of a secure future for the jet, but it will keep the production lines going for another decade.

Signing the Memorandum of Understanding in Dubai
Signing the Memorandum of Understanding in Dubai

"I would like to thank Emirates, HH Sheikh Ahmed, Tim Clark, and Adel Al-Redha for their continued support of the A380," says Leahy. "This aircraft has contributed enormously to Emirates' growth and success since 2008 and we are delighted that it will continue to do so. This new order underscores Airbus' commitment to produce the A380 at least for another 10 years. I'm personally convinced more orders will follow Emirates' example and that this great aircraft will be built well into the 2030s."

Emirates took delivery of its 100th A380 on November 3, 2017.

Source: Airbus

6 comments
Paulinator
The entire A380 program was HEAVILY subsidized, and prolonging its slow death will be costly to the European consortium as well as its governmental backers. Let it die.
Fast Eddie
It would be fun to know the price, wouldn’t it?!
Bruce H. Anderson
One can't help but wonder how may airports have gate areas sufficient for 800 people. tick tick tick
highlandboy
Emirates has already dropped the lease on some of its older A380s. They are currently sitting unused as no one wants to lease them. Having ridden economy in one on a long haul flight out of Australia I can say it was one of the smoothest planes I have ever been in. But I can see that it is not viable for shorter more frequent routes.
Harap White
@fast eddie. It would be fun if people read the article before it comments. $446 million
F. Tuijn
@Harap White $446 million is the sticker price. I doubt whether any of the A380's were sold at that price.