Emi­rates agrees on deal to buy 50 Air­bus jets

▶ Emi­rates Air­line and Air Ara­bia signed firm deals with the plane maker at the air show

The National - News - - FRONT PAGE - DEENA KAMEL

Air­bus wrapped the sec­ond day of the Dubai Air­show with block­buster jet deals worth $30 bil­lion (Dh110.2bn) from lo­cal cus­tomers Emi­rates Air­line and Air Ara­bia, steal­ing the spot­light from US ri­val Boe­ing.

Air­bus fi­nalised a deal with Emi­rates for a firm or­der of 50 A350-900 wide-bod­ies val­ued at $16bn at list prices. That re­places an out­line deal in Fe­bru­ary for 30 A350s, which also in­cluded A330­Neos val­ued at $12bn that are still un­der dis­cus­sion.

De­liv­er­ies of the Rolls-Roy­ce­pow­ered A350s start in 2023 through to 2028, Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed, chair­man of Emi­rates, said yes­ter­day.

“Dur­ing the past month as ne­go­ti­a­tions con­tin­ued we did a thor­ough re­view of var­i­ous air­craft and of our own fleet plans. We are con­fi­dent in the per­for­mance of the A350XWB and we be­lieve this air­craft will be a good fit for our op­er­a­tions at Emi­rates,” he said.

The de­ci­sion on the re­vised deal comes af­ter the air­line ex­pressed its ire with plane mak­ers over de­liv­ery de­lays and per­for­mance is­sues.

The A350 will have var­i­ous cabin con­fig­u­ra­tions, in­clud­ing pre­mium econ­omy, and will be used on long-haul flights of up to 15 hours from Dubai. Emi­rates’ pre­mium econ­omy class on its A380 su­per­jumbo will start in Novem­ber 2020.

“It’s been a lot of work in the last months to come to this agree­ment and it’s a great out­come,” said Guil­laume Faury, chief ex­ec­u­tive at Air­bus.

“We are ex­tremely happy to see the A380 have a young but very tal­ented brother in the Emi­rates fleet.”

Air­bus chief com­mer­cial of­fi­cer Chris­tian Scherer told The Na­tional the talks to bring the A350 deal to fruition “were very in­tense”.

Dis­cus­sions are still on­go­ing be­tween Emi­rates and Air­bus re­gard­ing the 40 A330­Neos, for which the air­line signed an out­line deal in Fe­bru­ary, Sheikh Ahmed said.

“It is on our radar. I don’t want to say now we’ve can­celled it or not, be­cause we’re still talk­ing about it,” he said.

When asked whether he was op­ti­mistic about fi­nal­is­ing the A330­Neo deal, Mr Scherer re­ferred the ques­tion to the air­line. “If you ask me, does the A330 bring value to Emi­rates? The an­swer is yes,” he said.

Emi­rates is also dis­cussing with Boe­ing a sep­a­rate deal for 40 787 Dream­lin­ers, Sheikh Ahmed said.

Air­bus yes­ter­day also landed a $14bn or­der from Air Airabia for A320­Neo-fam­ily jets.

The long-awaited deal in­cludes a mix of A320­Neos, the larger A321­Neo and the longer-range A32XLR to be de­liv­ered start­ing in 2024 for fleet growth and re­place­ment, said Adel Ali, Air Ara­bia’s chief ex­ec­u­tive.

The longer range air­craft A321XLR is a “game-changer” for Air Ara­bia, help­ing the all-Air­bus op­er­a­tor reach more des­ti­na­tions in South-East Asia, Europe and Africa, he said. The air­line has yet to pick an en­gine maker.

Air Ara­bia, one of the big­gest low-cost air­lines in the re­gion, has en­tered into a joint venture with Eti­had Air­ways and jets from the or­der will also be used for the new air­line.

The jets will be in Abu Dhabi, and its other UAE hubs in Shar­jah and Ras al Khaimah, or its op­er­a­tions in Egypt and Morocco “as and when needed”, Mr Ali said.

The two deals marked a win for Air­bus over its com­peti­tor Boe­ing, which took a hit from a global ground­ing of its 737 Max nar­row-body fol­low­ing two fa­tal crashes.

How­ever, Boe­ing did win an or­der from Turkey’s SunEx­press for 10 more 737 Max jets. These will com­ple­ment the air­line’s ex­ist­ing or­der of 32 Max.

The deal, val­ued at $1.2bn at list prices, is the sec­ond Max or­der fol­low­ing ground­ing af­ter the Ethiopian Air­lines plane crash in March.

Boe­ing did win an or­der from Turkey’s SunEx­press for 10 737 Max. These will com­ple­ment the air­line’s ex­ist­ing or­der of 32 Max

Leslie Pableo for the Na­tional

Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed, chair­man of Emi­rates, signs the or­der for 50 A350-900 air­craft with Guil­laume Faury of Air­bus in Dubai yes­ter­day

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