Airbus announced that Emirates has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to acquire up to 36 A380 aircraft. Although the commitment is for 20 A380s while 16 remain an option, the agreement might just be that breath of air the A380 desperately needed.

The agreement, which includes commitment for 20 A380s and an option for 16 more with deliveries to start in 2020, is valued at $16 billion at latest list prices. The MoU was signed on January 18, 2018 at the airline’s headquarters in Dubai by HH Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman and Chief Executive, Emirates Airline and Group, and John Leahy, Chief Operating Officer Customers, Airbus Commercial Aircraft.

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Airbus appoints Eric Schulz as the Chief of Sales, Marketing & Contracts for the company’s Commercial Aircraft business. Schulz will join the company at the end of January 2018 to replace the legendary John Leahy, who is responsible for 90% of all Airbus aircraft ever sold, the company notes.
 

“We’ve made no secret of the fact that the A380 has been a success for Emirates. 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,” said Al Maktoum. “Some of the new A380s we’ve just ordered will be used as fleet replacements,” he added. “This order will provide stability to the A380 production line. We will continue to work closely with Airbus to further enhance the aircraft and onboard 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.”

The A380 is the world’s largest commercial aircraft, with two full wide-body decks. It flies 8,200 nautical miles (15,200 kilometres) non-stop and can accommodate 575 passengers in 4 classes. Although praised for its size and comfort, the superjumbo is far from glory when it comes to its order book. To date, 222 planes have been delivered to 13 airlines, with approximately 100 planes remaining on Airbus’ backlog (excluding the latest MoU with Emirates). Today’s announcement is also building up to the first order of A380 in two years.

"I would like to thank Emirates, HH Sheikh Ahmed, Tim Clark and Adel Al-Redha for their continued support of the A380,” said Leahy on Airbus side. “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 ten years. I’m personally convinced more orders will follow Emirates’ example and that this great aircraft will be built well into the 2030s.”

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At the Dubai Airshow Airbus and Emirates were expected to steal the headlines with the announcement of a $16-billion-worth deal for A380s. Instead, it was the Boeing and Emirates duo that entered the spotlight with a similarly valued deal for 40 Dreamliners.  Does this mean that the future of the A380 has gotten bleaker?  
 

Following delivery of its first A380 in July 2008, Emirates took its 100th A380 on November 3, 2017 in Hamburg, firmly securing Emirates status as the biggest operator of A380 - and the one on which superjumbo’s survival is dependent on. As of November 20, 2017 the Gulf carrier’s orders made up around half of all A380 orders ­– 142 of 317. Following the surprise at Dubai Air Show on November 2017, when Emirates opted for Boeing Dreamliners instead of an anticipated $16-billion-worth A380s deal, the continuity of Airbus superjumbo line was left in a precarious position. On January 15, 2018 Leahy put it even more bluntly saying the program would be shut down unless Emirates puts more orders for it.