Emirates signs $16B deal for Airbus A380s

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Deliveries will start in 2020 and the value of the deal is $16 billion at current list prices.

On Thursday, the two companies announced that Emirates signed a memorandum of understanding to buy up to 36 more A380 aircraft.

It said it regarded Emirates as the only airline with the capacity to place an order of the size required to keep production going.

Airbus warned on Monday that it might have to end production of the A380, having booked no new orders for the plane in two years.

The airline said that it will use some of its new A380s as fleet replacements.

"The A380 is an iconic aircraft and today's deal underlines Airbus's commitment to its production over the long term". Talks between Airbus and Emirates about a fresh A380 order broke down at the last minute at the Dubai Airshow in November, when the Gulf carrier placed an order for 40 smaller Boeing 787s.

Emirates chairman and chief executive Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum and Airbus Commercial Aircraft chief operating officer for customers John Leahy.

On Thursday, Leahy seemed relieved that Airbus' strategy of staring down Emirates appeared to have paid off, saying the programme was now good to go on for at least another decade.

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Leahy said the deal underscored Airbus's commitment to make the A380 for the next decade at least.

Dubai's main airport, where Emirates is based, is among the busiest in the world with more than 80 million travellers passing through in 2016.

If Emirates signs off on the full deal, it will have committed to a total of 178 A-380s, or more than half of all orders for the plane worldwide.

Emirates Airlines has a fleet of 269 wide-bodied aircraft and flies to 157 destinations.

Emirates has built much of its network and brand around the 544-seat A380 superjumbo but is also the world's largest operator of twin-engined Boeing 777s which carry up to 400 people in their newest version now in development.

The purchase will extend A-380 production until 2029 if Emirates takes all of the planes, according to Airbus, which as recently as Monday had acknowledged that the programme could be terminated without a new sale soon. Trade union Unite said the deal secured jobs there.

"Without it, production would likely have been terminated", Strickland said. "It will be a great relief to Airbus to have secured this order, but they have to work aggressively to secure orders from other airlines too now".

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