The bumper order Emirates placed for Boeing 777s at the start of the Dubai Airshow was made in anticipation of strong growth in emerging market demand, Tim Clark, president of the airline, told CNBC Monday.
He said: "We're talking just under 3 years out before we start receiving planes, and a lot is going to happen between now and then."
Clark was optimistic about the airline's growth prospects over the next 5-6 years and its ability to cope with economic shocks such as the euro zone debt crisis.
"We will deal with these and navigate the business through that," he said. "Business will still be conducted in growing markets, and we remain confident that when we get equilibrium into the global economy, other markets will grow again."
Boeing on Sunday signed the biggest deal in its history at the Dubai Airshow as Emirates agreed to buy 50 777-330R aircraft worth approximately $18 billion. The deal showed that demand for new aircraft remains high despite the high cost of oil and the economic crisis.
Clark pointed out that Emirates' aging fleet needs replacing.
Earlier this month, the airline reported disappointing results for the first six months of 2011, with a 75 percent drop in profits year-on-year.
"I'm proud that we made money at all," said Clark, who blamed the cost of oil and the economic crisis for the results. "As long as we remain cash-positive and our balance sheet is in good shape, we will continue to grow our business."
He added that new models such as the Airbus A320neo and the Boeing 737 MAX are "doing a huge amount to change the way airlines go about their business" and claimed that they could do more to reduce fuel emissions than emission-trading schemes can.
"I don't think the industry does enough to tell people what they are doing to reduce fuel emissions," he said.