Emirates Airline Wednesday said it was buying two more Airbus Group SE A380 superjumbos, a day after the European plane maker announced the order as one from an undisclosed customer.
Emirates Airline, the world’s largest international carrier by traffic, said the additional aircraft will be delivered in the fourth quarter of next year. The purchase has a list price value of $865.2 million, though airlines often get steep discounts.
Emirates is the largest buyer of the A380 double-decker, with 142 now ordered. The Dubai-based carrier is the buyer of about 45% of all A380s Airbus has sold. Other airlines have shied away from the large plane, concerned they can’t find a financially viable way to fill the aircraft, which seats more than 500 passengers.
Emirates Airline President Tim Clark has been most outspoken backer for the plane outside of Airbus. “We’ve always been open about how the A380 has been a success for Emirates,” Mr. Clark said, adding that the large-capacity plane was a “boon” for operations at packed airports such as London Heathrow, “and we get a lot of positive feedback from our customers.”
Other airlines have abandoned the superjumbo. Airbus this week announced that French carrier Air Austral had canceled an order for two of the planes. Last month, Air France-KLM SA said it had dropped plans to take the last two A380s it had ordered. Virgin Atlantic Airways Ltd., the airline founded by billionaire Richard Branson, also has said it doesn’t plan to take the six A380s it had ordered.
A deal with Japan’s Skymark Airlines Inc. for A380s has also fallen apart. Airbus had already built two of the airline’s planes but never delivered them before the deal was canceled. Those are now going to Emirates Airline, an Airbus official said, confirming the deal from the undisclosed customer was for the Middle East carrier.
Kingfisher Airlines and Hong Kong Airways are among other carriers to have bought the plane and reversed course.
However, Airbus also has had a few A380 bright spots. All Nippon Airways late last year agreed to buy three of the planes. In January, the European plane maker signed an agreement with Iran Air to take 12 of the superjumbos, though the deal still needs to be completed.
Fabrice Brégier, the head of Airbus’s plane-making unit, has said securing more A380 deals is a priority.
Airbus last year for the first time delivered A380s that reached break-even after years of losses. The company has said the program should remain at break-even this year and next, though more orders are needed to fill production capacity after 2017.
Emirates boss Mr. Clark said the additional aircraft would help the airline replace 30 planes being phased out and deliver further growth. Emirates will introduce 33 more A380s before 2018, along with 24 Boeing Co. 777 long-range jets. Emirates is also the largest buyer of the Boeing plane.
The two additional Emirates A380s will be powered by Rolls-Royce Trent 900 engines. The airline had been buying A380s, powered by engines from a joint venture of General Electric and United Technologies Corp. ’s engine unit Pratt & Whitney. It opted to switch to Rolls-Royce a year ago in a $9.5 billion order to power 50 of the planes.
[graphiq id=”7dJZrrvlWkZ” title=”Airbus A380-800 Overview” width=”600″ height=”495″ url=”https://w.graphiq.com/w/7dJZrrvlWkZ” link=”http://planes.axlegeeks.com/l/242/Airbus-A380-800″ link_text=”Airbus A380-800 Overview | AxleGeeks” ]