Emirates Gives Airbus 29 Billion Reasons To Build A New Superjumbo Jet

Whoever said that the almighty wallet can conquer everything may have been right.

Of the 139 Airbus A380 superjumbos that have been delivered over the past eight years, 52 are flying with Dubai’s Emirates Airlines — with dozens more on order. That’s why when Emirates demands a redesigned version of the superjumbo with more efficient engines, Airbus listens.

According to Dow Jones Business News, that’s exactly what’s happening right now.

Emirates CEO Tim Clark has stated that the airline could “definitely” buy 60-70 more superjumbos if Airbus is willing to offer a redesigned version of the plane with new Rolls Royce Trent Engines

The new engines would increase fuel efficiency by 10-12%, reports Dow Jones. At a current list price of $US414 million, the Emirates order can potentially be worth as much as $US28.98 billion.

The airline has given the aviation giant a 6-month window to decide whether or not it will build the A380neo (New Engine Option).

For Airbus, the company’s vaunted A380 Superjumbo was supposed to revolutionise air travel in the same way the Boeing 747 did decades earlier. Instead of selling like hotcakes, Airbus has found buyers hard to come by, with only 318 orders and a dozen airlines around world operating the aircraft.

To say Emirates is an important client for Airbus would be an understatement. However, with other, potentially more lucrative projects such as the A350XWB, the A320neo, and the A330neo on the docket, Airbus isn’t exactly rushing to pump more cash into the money-losing plane.

Airbus Emirates A380 handover ceremonyREUTERS/Christian CharisiusA new Airbus A380 aircraft for Emirates Airline is illuminated during a hand-over ceremony at the manufacturer’s site in Finkenwerder, near Hamburg.

For its part, Airbus chief executive John Leahy made it clear that the company will not be making a decision anytime soon.

Earlier this year, Airbus cancelled an order for six superjumbos from Skymark Airlines citing concerns over the Japanese domestic carrier’s ability to pay for the planes. Others clients, including Virgin Atlantic, have repeatedly delayed the delivery of their aircraft. Virgin Atlantic CEO Craig Kreeger told Bloomberg in April that the airline was still trying figure whether the A380 will be a fit for the airline.

With 3-engined airliners retired from passenger service, and Boeing’s 747-8 Intercontinental struggling to find buyers, the four-engined jumbo jet’s days may be numbered — regardless of what happens with the Emirates order.

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