Emirates picks up Airbus superjumbo, orders more jets

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Emirates picks up Airbus superjumbo, orders more jets

HAMBURG, Germany - The Gulf airline Emirates took delivery on Monday of its first Airbus A380 superjumbo jet after repeated delays and promptly said it would buy 60 other planes from the European firm.

By (Agencies)

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Published: Mon 28 Jul 2008, 9:57 PM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 1:00 PM

Emirates chief executive Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed al-Maktoum and his Airbus counterpart Thomas Enders offered hundreds of reporters a peek at Emirates' luxury version of the double-decker aircraft and touted its ecological clout.

"We congratulate Airbus for having created a greener, cleaner, quieter, smarter aircraft," Sheikh Maktoum said.

"With its very low fuel burn and quietness the A380 also sets new standards in environmental performance.It will definitely help air transportation and Emirates grow, while reducing the impact on the environment."

Sheikh Maktoum and Enders also signed a letter of intent in this northern German port city covering the purchase of 60 more long-haul Airbus planes -- 30 A330-300s and 30 A350s.

The deal was valued at a cool 12 billion dollars, though important clients normally obtain volume discounts.

After the signing ceremony, the two executives toured Emirate's new A380, the first of 58 ordered for a total list price of 18.8 billion euros.

The lower deck was configured for economy class, with a capacity of 399 seats.

The upper deck was fitted out with 76 reclining business class seats that contained a system to massage passengers, and 14 "suites" with an office, minibar and access to two large bathrooms equipped with showers.

Emirates plans to launch nonstop service between Dubai and New York on August 1, the first service to the United States with the world's biggest passenger jet.

The airline is the biggest Middle Eastern carrier and has withstood the rising price of jet fuel, which has caused major headaches for carriers around the world.

Other destinations scheduled to be served with the A380 were London, Sydney and Auckland.

Five A380 planes have already been delivered to Singapore Airlines.

In November, Emirates signed an order for 70 A350 planes, designed to enter service next year and use less fuel like its rival Boeing 787.

The airline had also taken an option for 50 more Airbus aircraft.

The letter of intent announced on Monday concerned 30 of those 50 planes, bringing firm orders to 100, Airbus said in a statement.

But the A380 was the star on Monday, and would represent "one of the essential pillars for Emirates' growth in the future," Sheikh Maktoum said at the weekend.

Emirates has had a long wait for the A380 superjumbo after repeated Airbus delays. The first plane was initially scheduled for delivery in October 2007.

The year got off to a good start for Airbus, with orders worth around 40 billion dollars announced at the Farnborough air show in Britain two weeks ago.

But the second half of the year would probably bring a fall in orders, the manufacturer has warned, resulting in total orders this year of around 850 aircraft, below the level posted in 2007.

For Emirates, the delivery and orders are another step in the airline's strategy of aggressive expansion and development of infrastructure on the ground.

Other Middle Eastern carriers are pursuing similar objectives and hope to turn the Gulf region into one of the world's major air transportation hubs in the coming decades.

Emirates A380 passengers to shower at 43,000 feet

First-class passengers will be able to take a shower at 43,000 feet and enjoy a drink at the upstairs bar on Dubai-based airline Emirates's double-decker Airbus A380s, the airline said on Monday.

Emirates boasted at a ceremony to take delivery of the first of 58 A380s at Airbus's Hamburg plant that the plane would have two bathrooms with showers in its first-class cabins as well as a lounge for premium travellers.

But luxury has its limits, as Emirates President Tim Clark warned passengers could not spend too long relaxing under the jets of water.

"The showers are regulated through a software programme that gives people a five-minute shower, which is ample in most cases," Clark told a news conference, adding that a traffic light system would let passengers know how long they had left.

"If you're on amber and your hair's full of shampoo, you want to get moving."

The shower also complicates attempts by Emirates and Airbus to slim down the superjumbo by some 5 tonnes by 2011/2012 to cut fuel use amid soaring oil prices and increasing calls for the industry to reduce its impact on the environment.

The plane will have to take on board an additional 500 kg of water, an increase of some 25 percent.

But Clark told journalists he was looking for ways to trim weight off the aircraft, such as by reducing the amount of paper.

"At the moment we have 1.8 kg in each seat pocket. We can't be completely paperless," he said, but information associated with sales, such as Duty Free products, currently in paper form was being put onto a retail TV channel, for example.

Emirates was also looking at curtains, carpets and seat-back entertainment hardware for ways to contribute a total of 2 tonnes in weight reduction.

Airbus meanwhile aimed to slim the A380 by a further 3 tonnes, including the airframe and by re-machining components.

"With today's fuel prices, then there's a huge pressure," Airbus programmes chief Tom Williams told Reuters on the sidelines of the event.

"It's shaving. It's not like we're going to go to one section and remove all the weight. It's more a question of trying to get the thing refined and squeezing a few kilos here and there."

Progress was also being made smoothing the A380 production process but the "question is 'does the rate of improvement match the rate of ramp-up in production?' Because of course every week that goes by we see improvement but at the same time of course the production rate's going up," Williams added.

Airbus hopes to reach a maximum production rate of four A380s a month in around three years.

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