The first A350 is scheduled to join Emirates’ fleet in August 2024, and with today’s additional orders, Emirates will receive A350 deliveries until early 2028 Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

Dubai: In a surprise last-minute turn of events on the fourth day of the Dubai Airshow, Dubai flagship carrier Emirates placed an order for 15 Airbus A350s with $6 billion. This takes the airline’s total A350 order book to a total of 65 units, the carrier announced on Thursday.

Including orders announced on Monday, Emirates has now committed a total of US$58 billion for 110 additional aircraft at this year’s airshow. The first A350 is scheduled to join Emirates’ fleet in August 2024, and with today’s additional orders, Emirates will receive A350 deliveries until early 2028.

Chairman and Chief Executive of Emirates Airline and Group Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum said, “The A350-900s will add to our fleet mix and we are pleased to announce additional orders for this aircraft type. We plan to deploy our A350s to serve a range of new markets including long-haul missions of up to 15 hours flying time from Dubai.”

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Airbus, Emirates, Rolls Royce reach compromise

Emirates and the French aircraft manufacturer were publicly at odds during this year's Airshow, particularly after airline President Tim Clark told newswires that he wouldn't place an order for the A350-1000 until engine performance issues were resolved.

The aircraft's engine is exclusively manufactured by Rolls Royce Holdings. Clark expressed concerns about the A350-1000s, labeling them as 'defective' due to what he perceived as excessively frequent maintenance cycles on the engine. The challenging climate in the Middle East and the high utilisation of planes put additional strain on the engines powering the A350-1000s.

While Emirates had previously aimed for an agreement on up to 50 of the larger A350-1000 model, developments on Thursday suggest a potential compromise between the companies.

"Emirates’ orders this week are all carefully planned to support our future growth and Dubai’s economic vision. The Emirates experience is often the first visitor experience of Dubai – and we want it to be the best,” said Sheikh Ahmed.

Christian Scherer, Airbus Chief Commercial Officer and Head of Airbus International said, "With this agreement we mark another solid step forward in the long standing relationship agreement between Emirates and Airbus. A relationship founded on a pursuit of innovation, efficiency and operational excellence.”

Emirates will now have a total order book of 310 wide-body aircraft, including Monday's deal for 95 additional Boeing aircraft.

The American aircraft manufacturer, however, has outperformed its French counterpart during this edition of the biennial airshow. Apart from Emirates, Boeing bagged orders from flydubai, Kazakh airline SCAT, Egypt Air (leased), Royal Jordanian, Royal Air Maroc, and SunExpress.

In comparison, this is Airbus’s fourth deal during the Airshow, having won orders from airBaltic, Egypt Air, and Ethiopian Airlines.

Emirates commitment to A380

Emirates, the world’s biggest operator of the Airbus double-decker A380, made an investment of $1.5 billion to maintain and improve operational efficiencies of the jumbo jets.

It signed agreements with Honeywell, Collins Aerospace, Pratt and Whitney, Safran, Lufthansa Technik, OEM Services, Gameco, Haeco, and others to optimise its A380 fleet’s lifespan and unlock additional operational efficiency gains. Clark said Its size and capacity has allowed Emirates to unlock growth at some of the world’s busiest airports. Dubai Airports’ Emirates’ home base is also making significant investments to ensure seamless customer flows when it comes to the A380s.

DXB to remove 'gate room glass barriers'

In a separate interview with Gulf News, Airport CEO Paul Griffiths mentioned that part of the refurbishment program for Concourse C at Dubai Airports Terminal 3 includes upgrades to all boarding gates for Emirates' A380 customers. Griffiths explained that the airport intends to eliminate all glass barricades surrounding the gates to enhance the experience for customers.

“With the A380 being a large airplane, the concourse's population will significantly increase, and removing the gate room glass barriers aims to provide a better experience by avoiding the feeling of being locked inside a glass box,” he said.