By Bernd Debusmann Jr
Airline CEO and chairman Sheikh Ahmed makes announcement at Dubai Airshow on Monday
Emirates Airline said Monday it will buy 50 Airbus 350-900 aircraft in a deal worth $16 billion, with delivery to begin from May 2023.
In an announcement made at the Dubai Airshow alongside Airbus CEO Guillaume Faury, Emirates chairman and CEO Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum said that Monday’s firm order replaces a previous deal for 30 A350-900 and 40 A330-900 aircraft which had been announced earlier in the year.
“We are confident in the performance of the Airbus A350 XWB and we believe this aircraft this aircraft will be a good fit,” he said. “With our A350…we plan to offer different cabin configurations.”
The new cabin configurations on the aircraft will include premium economy, Sheikh Ahmed added.
Together with Emirates’ fleet of A380s and Boeing 777s, Sheikh Ahmed said the additional A350s will offer Emirates more flexibility in terms of capacity, range and deployment.”
“We’ll be able to take new aircraft to new markets, not only in the region, but also…up to 15 hours of flying time from Dubai,” he said, adding that the $16bn deal reflects Emirates’ confidence in the future of the UAE’s aviation sector and role as a travel hub.
Additionally, Sheikh Ahmed said that the new order has no bearing on the outcome of a provisional order for 40 Boeing 787 Dreamliners, for which he said Emirates was still in talks with the American aerospace giant.
At the moment, Emirates fleet is entirely comprised of Airbus A380 and Boeing 777 aircraft.
Saj Ahmad, chief analyst at StrategicAero Research, told Arabian Business that he believes the orders represent that “Emirates strategy to move away from reliance on the A380 has firmly begun.”
“With A380 production ceasing in 2021, Emirates was always on the prowl for a more flexible regional fleet and it’s here [on] less busy routes that the A350 will operate,” he said.
Ahmad added that the fact that no A330neos were ordered “leaves the door open” to firming up previous commitments for Boeing 787-10 and 787-9 aircraft.
“The 787 family definitely has a place alongside Airbus jets, as well as 777X,” he said.