The order announced by Emirates at the Dubai air show today, for 50 Airbus A350-900s, signals the formal cancellation of the bulk of its A380s.
Emirates revealed in February a tentative deal for 70 Airbus widebody twins – 30 A350-900s and 40 A330-900s – as part of a restructuring of its backlog that involved cancellation of 39 of its remaining A380 orders. This reduced its planned A380 orderbook from 162 aircraft to 123.
Announcing the A350 order today, Emirates chairman Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum said the deal replaced the previous plan that included 40 A330neos, but confirmed that there was no change to A380 restructuring and that it would top out at 123 aircraft.
He declined to comment on the decision to revamp the A330neo/A350 order, saying only "the A330neo is not part of the discussions".
Airbus chief commercial officer Christian Scherer plays down the A380 cancellation and the apparent decision by Emirates to drop the A330neo, saying: "The big winner is the A350."
Emirates was originally one of the early customers for the A350, placing its first firm order in 2007. However, after several order revamps, the airline finally cancelled the original contract in its entirety in 2014.