An Emirates Airbus A380, the world's largest commercial passenger plane. Image Credit: File photo

Dubai: Emirates Airline has reached an agreement with Airbus for the purchase of 70 more planes, but it has cut its previous order of superjumbos.

The Dubai-based carrier announced it has signed a new deal, pegged at $21.4 billion at list prices, on Thursday for the purchase of 40 A330-900 aircraft and 30 A350-900 aircraft, which will be delivered to Emirates starting from 2021 and 2024 respectively.

Airbus and Emirates have also reached an agreement on outstanding A380 deliveries. The airline will receive 14 more A380s from 2019 until the end of 2021, taking its total A380 order book to 123 units, down from 162. The 2019-2021 deliveries are part of the order made in 2013.

The signing of the new agreement was announced just as Airbus confirmed plans of ending the production of A380s. The UAE airline is a lead customer of Airbus' iconic aircraft, which is capable of packing more than 800 passengers.

With Emirates' A380 order book reduced, and given that there hasn't been any other purchase orders made recently, Airbus said it has no other option but to pull the plug on the production of superjumbos and that it will cease all A380 deliveries in 2021.

"Following a review of its operations, and in light of developments in aircraft and engine technologies, Emirates is reducing its A380 order book from 162 to 123 aircraft. Emirates will take delivery of 14 further A380s over the next two years. As a consequence and given the lack of order backlog with other airlines, Airbus will cease deliveries of the A380 in 2021," Airbus said in a statement.

“After many months of discussions, we have come to an agreement with Airbus and Rolls-Royce,” Shaikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman and Chief Executive, Emirates Airline and Group, said.

In January last year, Emirates announced it would order 36 more Airbus A380s.

Disappointed

The airline said it's disappointed that the A380 programmed could not be sustained.

“Emirates has been a staunch supporter of the A380 since its very inception. 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 added.

“For us, the A380 is a wonderful aircraft loved by our customers and our crew. It is a differentiator for Emirates. We have shown how people can truly fly better on the A380, and Emirates has set the standards for that by introducing customer experiences that are unique to the A380 like our Shower Spas and Onboard Lounge.”

The airline said it will use the A330neos to serve its regional destinations, as well as smaller airports, thereby opening up new routes and connectivity for its global network.

“The A350s will supplement Emirates’ long-haul operations, providing the carrier with added flexibility in terms of capacity deployment on 8 to 12 hour missions from its Dubai hub,” the airline said in a statement.

“The A380 is Emirates’ flagship and has contributed to the airline’s success for more than ten years. As much as we regret the airline’s position, selecting the A330neo and A350 for its future growth is a great endorsement of our very competitive widebody aircraft family,” said Guillaume Faury, president of Airbus Commercial Aircraft and future Airbus CEO.

“Going forward, we are fully committed to deliver on the longstanding confidence Emirates is placing in Airbus.”

Airbus announces plans to scrap production of A380

Europe's Airbus announced plans to scrap production of the A380 superjumbo on Thursday, abandoning its dream of dominating the skies with a cruiseliner for the 21st century after years of lacklustre sales.

The world's largest airliner, with two decks of spacious cabins and room for 544 people in standard layout, was designed to challenge Boeing's legendary 747 but failed to take hold as airlines backed a new generation of smaller, more nimble jets.

Airbus said in a statement that the last A380 would be delivered in 2021.

The European company said it would enter talks with unions in coming weeks over the 3,000-3,500 jobs potentially affected.

Airbus will produce 17 more of the planes including 14 for Emirates and 3 for Japanese airline ANA. (Reuters)