Massive $15 billion commitment from Dubai's flag carrier includes more A380s and new A340-600 version

Dubai's flag carrier Emirates was expected to provide the embattled civil aerospace business with a massive boost on 4 November, unveiling $15 billion worth of orders for 58 Airbus and Boeing widebodies, including a tripling of its Airbus A380 commitments.

The airline was due to announce the deal for 33 Airbus aircraft (plus 10 options) and 25 Boeings at the opening day of the Dubai 2001 air show, according to industry sources. Negotiations were still underway as Flight International closed for press, and therefore the final order numbers may have been subject to last minute changes.

Emirates has firmed up its order for five A380-800s and two A380-800 freighters, and added a further 15 firm A380 orders and 10 options - taking its total commitments to 32 aircraft. Deliveries will begin in July 2006. The General Electric and Pratt & Whitney Engine Alliance and Rolls-Royce are still vying for the power-plant contract.

Airbus has also secured orders from Emirates for three more A330-200s, taking the airline's orders for the twinjet to 27. Emirates has also signed a letter of intent (LOI) for eight A340-600s - specifying a proposed new version of the aircraft with maximum take-off weight increased to 376t for delivery from April 2005. The increased weight would enable Emirates to operate direct flights from Dubai to the US east coast.

Boeing has received a major chunk of the deal, with Emirates signing a LOI for 25 Boeing 777s for delivery from 2003. The deal includes both the -200ER and -300 model, and engine selection has been thrown open even though the airline already operates 13 R-R Trent 800-powered 777s.

The unveiling of this massive new commitment is confirmation of the airline's stated fleet growth plans as revealed in Flight International (3-9 July). This plan envisages the fleet expanding annually over the next 10 years by around 20-30% from the current total of 36 aircraft to well over 100 aircraft.

Source: Flight International