Emirates airline signalled the end of the Airbus A380 programme with a $21.4bn deal for 70 Airbus aircraft - 40 A330-900 aircraft and 30 A350-900.
The Dubai carrier will also reduce its current order of 53 Airbus A380 – boosted in February last year - to 14, with deliveries from 2019 until the end of 2021, which is when Airbus said it will end the production programme.
With few other international airlines investing in the A380, Emirates will ditch the superjumbo in favour of the latest generation Airbus A330neo and A350 aircraft, with deliveries starting from 2021 and 2024 respectively.
The new order will allow the airline to cater for smaller airports with the A330neo - a widebody jet comparable to the Boeing 787.
Sheikh Ahmed, chairman and chief executive, Emirates airline and group, said the decision to move away from the A380 came “after many months of discussions” with Airbus and Rolls-Royce.
“Emirates has been a staunch supporter of the A380 since its very inception,” said Sheikh Ahmed.
“While we are disappointed to have to give up our order, and sad that the programme could not be sustained, we accept that this is the reality of the situation.”
He said described the A380 as “a wonderful aircraft loved by our customers and our crew”, which he pointed out will “remain a pillar of our fleet well into the 2030s”, with plans to continue to invest in its onboard product.
Sheikh Ahmed said the 40 A330neos and 30 A350s will “complement Emirates’ fleet mix, support our network growth, and give us more flexibility to better serve seasonal or opportunistic demand”.
“Emirates’ fleet strategy to operate a young, modern, and efficient all-wide body fleet remains unchanged,” he said.
The A330neos will be deployed on Emirates’ regional destinations, and also enable the airline to serve smaller airports, while the A350s will supplement Emirates’ long-haul operations, providing the carrier with added flexibility in terms of capacity deployment on 8 to 12 hour flights from its Dubai hub.
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