Emirates ponders resurrection of stalled Airbus widebody order

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Emirates is evaluating whether to revive a stalled deal announced last year for up to 60 Airbus widebodies, including 30 A350 XWBs.

At the delivery ceremony for its first A380 in Hamburg in July 2008, the Dubai carrier signed a letter of intent for 30 A330-300s for delivery from 2012, as well as 30 more A350-1000s. But the deal was put on the backburner after the global downturn, says the airline's president, Tim Clark. "By the time it came to consummating the deal, the bottom had fallen out of the market, so we didn't."

Clark says he considers the planned order "alive and well, and very, very topical at this moment", but thinks it is unlikely to be revived in time to confirm at November's Dubai air show.

emirates a350 
 © Airbus

Emirates continues to forge ahead with new widebody deliveries - it is taking 22 A380s and 777s during its current financial year, which began on 1 April 2009 - and Clark says the passenger fleet will number about 145 aircraft by next summer.

However, from September next year, the airline will start phasing out up to 58 of its older aircraft, including 29 A330-200s, eight A340-300s and 21 777-200ER/300s.

With the first of 70 firmly ordered A350s (50 -900s and 20 -1000s) due to arrive in 2014, Clark says the composition of that deal - and the stalled plan for 30 more -1000s - is being re-evaluated. "I'm not sure the ratio we have is right - we want to go for more -1000s," he says.

Clark says Emirates' future fleet composition plan is being driven by the fact there has been a major rethink on the expansion strategy for Dubai's current international airport, following the decision to push back development of the all-new hub at Jebel Ali. "We're looking at what one can do here to maximise Dubai International," he adds. "One thing is to make the aircraft bigger."