Emirates mulling order of up to 30 A380s, say analysts

Dubai carrier expected to unveil significant orders to offset A350 delays, route expansion
Emirates mulling order of up to 30 A380s, say analysts
Emirates president Tim Clark said the airline has ambitious plans for the US market
By Claire Ferris-Lay
Tue 04 Oct 2011 07:49 AM

Emirates
Airline is expected to place orders for a significant number of aircraft,
including 30 A380s and additional Boeing 777s at the Dubai Airshow next month,
aviation analysts said.

The
largest international carrier has around 199 planes on order, scheduled for
delivery through to 2019, but is likely to unveil new orders to support its
rapid route expansion and in preparation for the delayed delivery of the Airbus
A350.

“Boeing has some 29 unidentified orders for
777s. Emirates has a history of placing orders through the year without making
them public and then announcing them at the show,” said Saj Ahmed, a UK-based
aviation analyst.

 “At
this stage it's unclear how many they ordered in 2011, or indeed whether they
will actually place a brand new order. Either way, expect at least 20 [Boeing] 777s
for Emirates as a result of the A350 delays and their need to fill that gap as they
draw down older airplanes,” he said.

The airline is also a likely customer for a
further 30 A380s, to take their total order for the aircraft to 120, he said.

State-backed
Emirates is among the world’s largest buyers of new aircraft. The
carrier counts 90 Airbus A380s worth $34bn at list price among its
outstanding orders, and said in July it plans to spend around $4bn annually over
the next three to four years.

With about a hundred 777s in the Emirates fleet now and
about 40 still to come, the carrier is also the model’s biggest airline customer.

Airbus said in June it planned to push back the launch of
its largest A350 wide-body aircraft by 18 months. The delay allows the planemaker
to meet buyer demands for a more powerful engine, and puts the model into more
direct competition with Boeing 777-300ER.

Ernest
Arvai, president of US aviation consultancy Arvai Group, said he also expected
Emirates to unveil new orders to support a recently-announced push into the
American market.

The airline last week said it would add flights to Seattle
and Dallas in a revival of plans to establish a major route network to the
world’s largest economy that it shelved after the 2001 terror attacks.

“We
believe Emirates will order additional A380s to cover route growth, including a
couple of routes to the US,” he said. “I would expect Emirates to fill out its
fleet plan for 2015-17 with additional orders if they see a gap, and potential
delays to A350. 

“Two
factors are in play. One is additional growth for Emirates and more aggressive
expansion plans, and the other, is the expectations with respect to Airbus
delivery timing.  

“Emirates
doesn't want to be in a position to be ready for new routes and not have
aircraft ready, so additional 777s are a safe choice,” he added.

Emirates
Airline and Boeing both declined to comment when contacted by Arabian Business.

“We’re
always in touch with our customers - existing and potential ones - and any
discussions of course remain confidential,” an Airbus spokesperson said in an
emailed statement.

Emirates
chairman Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum last week said the carrier is likely
to place orders for new planes at the show in November, but didn’t specify
which aircraft.

“I would
say it’s more positive that we might sign something,” he told reporters.

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