Over the past few months, there have been mutterings coming out of Airbus about the future of the A380.
Apart from an order for three aircraft back in January 2016 from ANA of Japan, there have been no new A380 orders for a few years now. There were a few mutterings from IAG group about a possible further order for six aircraft, however those appear to have come to naught with CEO Willie Walsh complaining that they were too expensive.
“We have options on A380s … but we are not going to exercise them because they are too expensive,” Willie Walsh said.
“Dubai-based Emirates Airline has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to acquire up to 36 additional A380 aircraft. The agreement was signed this morning at the airline’s headquarters in Dubai by HH Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman and Chief Executive, Emirates Airline and Group, and John Leahy, Chief Operating Officer – Customers, Airbus Commercial Aircraft. The commitment is for 20 A380s and an option for 16 more with deliveries to start in 2020, valued at US$16 billion at latest list prices.”
The A380 is the backbone of the Emirates fleet, with them receiving their 100th aircraft back in November.
At present, Emirates haven’t yet selected the engine for this new order. Currently their fleet is split with about 90 aircraft being powered by the GE/P&W Engine Alliance, and around 50 powered by the Rolls Royce Trent 900s.
This order, well actually it’s just a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), will start the process off to replace Emirates oldest aircraft, plus keep production of the A380 going for another ten years.
Some airlines have already started to replace their oldest A380s, Singapore Airlines retiring its first aircraft a few weeks ago, but using it as an opportunity to launch an updated first and business class.
I’m fortunate enough to have flown on the A380 from a number of carriers and I can say without exception they are a fantastic piece of engineering, that’s quiet, comfortable and passenger focussed. Personally, I prefer them to the likes of the Boeing 787 from a passenger comfort perspective, however from an airline economic one, the 787 has vastly outsold the A380.
As a European, this is certainly great news for Airbus, and people in the supply-chain across the continent involved with the manufacture and support of this fantastic aircraft.