Emirates makes history with 'superjumbo' order
Emirates boosted its reputation as the world's most bullish airline Tuesday with an order for 32 more "superjumbos", the biggest contract in civil aviation history according to a delighted Airbus.
The 11.5-billion-dollar deal, unveiled just as the global airline sector emerges bruised and battered from the worst global slowdown in decades, will take the number of A380s ordered by debt-ridden Dubai's flag carrier to 90.
"Our latest commitment signals Emirates' confidence in the growth to come in a thriving aviation sector," chief executive Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed al-Maktoum said as he announced the order at the Berlin Air Show (ILA) in Germany.
"The A380 is our flagship in terms of passenger comfort, innovation, operating and environmental efficiency and revenue generation."
Emirates already serves eight destinations with its current 10 A380s including London Heathrow, Toronto, Seoul and Sydney, and hopes to serve more as airports adapt to accommodate the world's largest passenger aircraft.
Other airlines, still licking their wounds from the downturn, have been more reluctant to order the monster airliner, fearful that they would not have enough passengers to cover the huge purchase price and operating costs.
But Emirates, which was the first airline to order the A380 and whose 10th delivery was on show at the ILA, has reason to be confident, having bucked the trend last year as it chalked up almost a billion dollars in net profit.
The order comes also as a huge relief meanwhile to its maker Airbus, the Franco-German arch rival of US aerospace giant Boeing, as it attempts to make what it calls the "iconic flagship of the 21st century" a commercial success.
The Emirates order takes to 234 the number of firm orders it has received from 17 customers for the A380, which can carry more than 800 passengers, Airbus said Tuesday.
Thirty are currently in service but the aircraft has been plagued by production problems.
Before Tuesday, Airbus had gone around a year without receiving any confirmations of orders for the A380 or any new contracts for the plane as airlines wrestled with the global recession.
Boeing was also ahead of Airbus in the race for orders in the first five months of this year, figures from the companies showed last week, with Airbus receiving a net total of 73 and its US rival 111.
The firm's A400M military transport plane has also hit major problems, going billions of dollars over budget.
Louis Gallois, chief executive of parent company EADS, said in a recent interview that orders for the A380 would not properly take off again until 2011 or 2012 as airlines put the downturn behind them.
"On behalf of all of us at Airbus, we thank Emirates for their confidence and support," said a grateful CEO Thomas Enders.
© 2010 AFP