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Emirates wants Airbus A380 production guarantee before placing new orders

  • Emirates was expected to announce a deal to buy another tranche of Airbus A380s on Sunday at the Dubai Airshow
  • But the airline issued a surprise by swooping for 40 Boeing 787-10 Dreamliners from Airbus' main rival in a provisional order worth $15.1 billion

Emirates has not ruled out buying more Airbus A380s in future but the aircraft maker would have to guarantee it could keep its production line going, Emirates' chief executive told CNBC Monday.

Emirates was expected to announce a deal to buy another tranche of Airbus A380s on Sunday at the Dubai Airshow. But the airline issued a surprise by swooping for 40 Boeing 787-10 Dreamliners from Airbus' main rival in a provisional order worth $15.1 billion.

The Gulf's largest carrier says deliveries will begin in 2022, bringing its total commitment with Boeing to over 200 units.

Emirates Chief Executive Tim Clark said Monday that he wouldn't rule out buying more Airbus A380s in future, however, telling CNBC that he would tell Airbus to "keep the (production) line going."

"We need copper-bottom (trustworthy) undertakings so if we do order some more that they will not cancel the program, so getting them across the line with regard to the commitments they would have to make to support the line over the next ten, fifteen years is vital to us," he said.

Emirates President Tim Clark.
Daniel Munoz | Reuters
Emirates President Tim Clark.

"The ownership, my bosses here, will not sanction any further acquisitions unless they know the line is going to be continued and they have a full understanding of what would happen if there was a cancellation," he added.

Clark said Airbus needed to revitalize its sales efforts amid a more uncertain global economy and geopolitical landscape, saying that management boards were far more risk averse now, worried about their commercial teams being able to fill aircraft.

Emirates Chairman, Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed al-Maktoum, said on Sunday that the carrier had chosen the latest version of Boeing's mid-sized wide-body jet after comparing it with the Airbus A350, according to Reuters.

Speaking to CNBC, the Emirates chief executive explained the company did not decide to overlook the Airbus A350 due to "performance issues."

"The (Airbus A)350 was a contract that we set up in 2007 and through its development stage and when it started flying it was clear there were some performance issues that we really couldn't live with so we went away from that contract. So that was some time ago and the (Boeing) 787-10 didn't exist in those days and when Boeing developed that aircraft ... it was an airplane that we were immediately interested in," he said.

Clark said that the Boeing 787-10 Dreamliner had shown "some fantastic results" in operation but also didn't rule out being a return customer of Airbus' aircraft at a later point.

"It's not to say that the A350-900 is a bad aircraft now, because Airbus attended to the issues that we were concerned about since it's been flying and I think it's much improved. It's an airplane that we would look at perhaps in the future — the A350-900, the A350-1000 – but at this point the (Boeing) 787 is a better jet for our fleet," he said.