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Video: Emirates announces $16 billion order for 50 Airbus A350 planes at Dubai Airshow

Waheed Abbas/Dubai
Filed on November 18, 2019
Emirates, airbus, A350, dubai airshow 2019

(Supplied)

Fleet investment strengthens airline's business model.

Emirates airline ordered 50 Airbus A350 aircraft worth $16 billion (Dh58.7 billion) on the second day of Dubai Airshow 2019 on Monday as the Dubai-based carrier moves away from reliance on the A380.

The European plane maker Airbus will stop production of double-decker from 2021 and Emirates operates a sizeable fleet of A380s.

Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, chairman of Emirates Group and Emirates airline, said deliveries of A350 will start from May 2023 and continue until 2028.

Emirates chairman, who is also chairman of budget carrier flydubai, told media in a briefing that there will be significant impact on the budget carrier from the grounding of Boeing 737 MAX if it continues further.


"Impact from grounding of the 737 is significant. Flydubai lost a lot during the summer period. They will lose two or three good periods such as Christmas seasons," Sheikh Ahmed said.

Flydubai, the second biggest customer of 737 MAX globally, said in September that its fleet will be shrinking to 2014 levels as the jet remains grounded and lease contracts on older planes expire.

Sheikh Ahmed said the option is open for replacing flydubai's grounded fleet of 737 MAX with Airbus A320neos.

"Boeing has so much pressure not only from us but from all the operators. I would say that they need to communicate much better than they did in the past. We are in the same boat," he told reporters on the sidelines of Dubai Airshow.

Ruling out a merger with Etihad Airways, Sheikh Ahmed said they would continue to explore more synergies with the Abu Dhabi-based carrier.

Emirates' new A350 aircraft will be powered by Rolls-Royce Trent XWB engines and allow the Dubai carrier to serve new markets not only in the region but on long-haul routes of up to 15 hours.

Sheikh Ahmed said this purchase agreement replaces the heads of agreement signed in February where Emirates announced its intent to purchase 30 A350s and 40 A330Neos.

"The order has been firmed following a thorough review of various aircraft options and of our own fleet plans. It is Emirates' long-standing strategy to invest in modern and efficient aircraft, and we are confident in the performance of the A350 XWB," Ahmed said during the media briefing on Monday.

He said the new aircraft will give the Dubai-based airline added flexibility in terms of capacity, range and deployment. "

"This $16 billion 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," Sheikh Ahmed added.

Saj Ahmad, chief analyst at StrategicAero Research, said in over-ordering the A350 family, having cancelled a bigger deal a few years earlier, Emirates' strategy to move away from reliance on the A380 has firmly begun.

"With A380 production ceasing in 2021, Emirates was always on the prowl for a more flexible regional fleet and it's here where less busy routes that the A350 will operate. That no A330neo's were ordered (by Emirates) leaves the door open to firming up the 787-10 and 787-9 commitments announced two years ago. The 787 family definitely has a place alongside the Airbus jets, as well as 777X," Ahmad told Khaleej Times.

The world's largest carrier in terms of international passengers currently operates an all widebody fleet of efficient and modern aircraft, comprising the iconic Airbus A380 and the popular Boeing 777. From its hub in Dubai, the airline serves over 150 cities on six continents, offering award-winning inflight and on-ground services.

Guillaume Faury, CEO of Airbus, said the A350 will bring unbeatable economics and environmental benefits to Emirates' fleet.

Sheikh Ahmed said they are talking to Boeing, which is present at Dubai Airshow, for 777x aircraft.

-waheedabbas@khaleejtimes.com


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