Dubai-based airline Emirates has put in a $16bn (£12.3bn) order for 50 Airbus 350 aircraft, in a bid to access to new markets in the region and among longer-haul destinations.
Delivery of Emirates’ first A350 XWB aircraft, a twin-engine, wide-bodied jet liner that entered service in 2015, is due in May 2023 and will continue until 2028, the airline said.
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Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Emirates chairman and chief executive, signed the deal with Airbus CEO Guillaume Faury at the Dubai airshow on Monday November 18. The agreement replaces a deal signed in February this year, under which Emirates was to purchase 30 A350s and 40 A330 Neos.
Al Maktoum said: “Complementing our A380s and 777s, the A350s will give us added operational flexibility in terms of capacity, range and deployment. In effect, we are strengthening our business model to provide efficient and comfortable air transport services to, and through, our Dubai hub.
“This $16bn deal reflects our confidence in the future of the UAE’s aviation sector and is a strong affirmation of Dubai’s strategy to be a global nexus connected to cities, communities and economies via a world-class and modern aviation sector.
This was the first major deal of the biennial Dubai air show. On its first day, no big-ticket deals had gone through. Forbes.com noted that in 2017, when the airshow was last held, $15bn in orders went through on day one.
Emirates is the world’s fourth-largest airline based on revenue passenger-kilometres, the sum of the distances flown by each of its paying passengers over a year. it currently operates an all wide-body fleet aircraft that includes Airbus’ 380 and rival Boeing 777s, serving more than150 cities on six continents.
Airbus’ Faury said: “We are honoured by Emirates’ strong vote of confidence in our newest widebody aircraft, taking our partnership to the next level. The A350 will bring unbeatable economics and environmental benefits to their fleet.”
Airbus is on track to overtake Boeing, after the two fatal crashes that grounded Boeing’s 737 Max aircraft and prompted a steep decline in orders for commercial planes. Britain’s Guardian newspaper reported in July that Airbus delivered 389 commercial aircraft in the first half of this year, compared with Boeing’s 239.