An Emirates A380. Image Credit: AP

Dubai: Emirates is adding more superjumbos to its fleet as it announced on Thursday a deal worth $16 billion (Dh58.7 billion) for 36 additional Airbus A380 aircraft.

The additional double-decker planes, capable of packing more than 800 passengers, will be delivered to the Dubai-based airline from 2020 onwards.

“Together with the airline’s 101-strong A380 fleet and its current order backlog for 41 aircraft, this new order brings Emirates’ commitment to the A380 programme to 178 aircraft, worth over $ 60 billion,” the airline said in a statement.

The deal was announced just days after the maker of the world’s largest passenger plane said it might have to stop the production of A380s if it won’t get any new orders soon.

The airline, whose A380 fleet operates both GE and Rolls-Royce engines, said it is also evaluating engine options for its latest A380 order.

The twin-deck A380 is the largest commercial plane flying today. The aircraft is so big that some runway facilities had to be expanded to accommodate it. However, its European maker has been struggling to get new orders.

John Leahy, chief operating officer and sales chief at Airbus said on Monday that they won’t have any choice but to shut down its flagship aircraft programme, if they fail to make a deal with its main customer, Emirates. He said the carrier is “probably the only one with the ability” to purchase at least six A380 planes a year for a period of eight to 10 years.

However, things changed for Airbus on Thursday, as the airline announced it has decided to go ahead with the deal for 36 A380s, with 20 firm orders and 16 options.

In its latest tweet, Airbus commended Emirates’ decision, saying that the A380 has been instrumental to the growth of the UAE airline.

“The A380 has contributed enormously to the airline’s growth and success while delighting passengers with a spacious, quiet cabin,” said the planemaker.

Commenting on the order, His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, said: “Emirates truly represents Dubai’s spirit of growth, innovation and resilience. It also epitomises the city’s increasing role in connecting the world in terms of people, capital and information flows.”

“This deal reflects Emirates’ confidence in shaping the future, and its commitment to advancing Dubai’s vision to grow further as a world-class destination and aviation hub.”

His Highness Shaikh Ahmad Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman and Chief Executive, Emirates Airline and Group, signed the memorandum of understanding (MOU) on Thursday with Leahy at the airline’s headquarters in Dubai.

“We’ve made no secret of the fact that the A380 has been a success for Emirates. Our customers love it, and we’ve been able to deploy it on different missions across our network, giving us flexibility in terms of range and passenger mix,” said Shaikh Ahmad (pictured above).

“Some of the new A380s we’ve just ordered will be used as fleet replacements. This order will provide stability to the A380 production line. We will continue to work closely with Airbus to further enhance the aircraft and onboard product, so as to offer our passengers the best possible experience. The beauty of this aircraft is that the technology and real estate on board gives us plenty of room to do something different with the interiors,” he said.