The recent order of further Airbus A380 airliners by Emirates Airlines has guaranteed that the superjumbo will remain in production for at least another decade, an Airbus spokesperson assures Engineering News. On January 18 it was announced that Airbus and Emirates had signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU), worth $16-billion at list prices, under which the airline placed a firm order for 20 new A380s and took out options on 16 more, for a total of 36.
As of November last year, Emirates had taken delivery of 100 A380s, with the first received in July 2008. It is Emirates’ policy not to operate an airliner for more than ten years, so some of the aircraft ordered under the MoU will replace early-model A380s, while others will expand the fleet further.
As of December 31, Airbus had delivered 222 A380s and had an order backlog of 95. The latest Emirates order takes the firm backlog to 115, plus the 16 options – if exercised, and so far the indications are that they will be, they would increase the backlog to 131. “We have a long [production] time in front of us,” states the spokesperson. “The A380 is here to stay! We are also confident that this new Emirates order will generate new A380 orders from other airlines.
“We will deliver 12 A380s in 2018 and eight A380s in 2019,” he elucidates. “Emirates’ new order deliveries will start in 2020. This order allows Emirates to take delivery of at least six A380s a year for almost the next ten years. This figure doesn’t include deliveries to other airlines.” (Last month, Airbus Commercial Aircraft president Fabrice Brégier told journalists: “We can have an industrially robust process to deliver down to six [A380] aircraft a year.”)
“Industrially speaking, such a programme needs a minimum number of deliveries to maintain [the] industrial production system,” explains the spokesperson. “Some years ago, it was probably close to 12 aircraft (that is, one aircraft a month) and the good news is, thanks to our optimisation and reorganisation and our discussions with the supply chain, we now know we can maintain some reasonable efficiency at six aircraft a year. So, in other terms, the commercial challenge is smaller than the one we anticipated 12 or 18 months ago. So, then, we can stabilise and get additional orders.”
At the announcement of the latest Emirates order for the superjumbo, Emirates chairperson and CE Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum praised the A380. “We’ve made no secret of the fact that the A380 has been a success for Emirates,” he said. “Our customers love it, and we’ve been able to deploy it on different missions across our network, giving us flexibility in terms of range and passenger mix . . . This order will provide stability for the A380 production line. We will continue to work closely with Airbus to further enhance the aircraft and on-board product, so as to offer our passengers the best possible experience. The beauty of this aircraft is that the technology and real estate on board gives us plenty of room to do something different with the interiors.”
“I would like to thank Emirates, His Highness Sheikh Ahmed, [Emirates president] Tim Clark and [Emirates executive VP and COO] Adel Al-Redha for their continued support of the A380,” affirmed Airbus Commercial Aircraft COO: customers John 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’s commitment to produce the A380 at least for another ten years. I’m personally convinced more orders will follow Emirates’ example and that this great aircraft will be built well into the 2030s.”