Emirates A380s not conditional on engine upgrade

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Middle Eastern carrier Emirates’ order for 50 Airbus A380s is not predicated on a powerplant upgrade, but the competition to supply the engines remains open.

The airline’s order – the only deal for the type in 2013 – was initially unveiled at the Dubai air show, and has been confirmed in Airbus’s backlog figures for the full year.

Airbus chief operating officer for customers John Leahy says the agreement is “not conditional” on offering an enhanced engine for the A380.

Emirates has so far selected the Engine Alliance GP7200 for 90 A380s but the powerplants for the latest 50 are undecided – leaving the possibility that Rolls-Royce’s Trent 900, which is undergoing an upgrade, could find its way onto the fleet.

Leahy says there was “zero conditionality” on the order regarding the powerplants. “[Emirates] bought 50 with today’s engines,” he says.

Half of the additional aircraft are to be delivered by the end of 2018. These will partly serve as replacements, while later A380s will allow the carrier to expand as Dubai’s new Al Maktoum airport provides additional capacity to the city.

Airbus chief executive Fabrice Bregier says this schedule “will help” the airframer to deliver “close to” 30 aircraft per year – its current production stability target – over the next three years.