Emirates orders 15 Airbus A350-900 after engine row over larger jet


Dubai (Reuters) – Airbus (AIR.PA) won a consolation order for 15 more A350-900 jets from Emirates on Thursday after a public row between the Mideast giant and engine maker Rolls-Royce (RR.L) prevented a deal for a larger model at the Dubai Airshow.

Emirates Chairman and CEO Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum said the long-haul jets would “add to our fleet mix, and we are pleased to announce additional orders for this aircraft type”.

Industry sources described the $6 billion deal as a compromise after Emirates publicly criticised the performance and cost of Rolls-Royce engines for the A350-1000 over the amount of downtime needed in harsh Gulf conditions.

Sheikh Ahmed said Emirates would “work closely with Airbus and Rolls-Royce to ensure our aircraft deliver the best possible operating efficiency and flying experience for our customers”.

Emirates is by far the biggest user of the Airbus A380 after investing heavily in the world’s largest airliner, and is now planning the fleet needed to keep its Dubai super-hub at the centre of the aviation map beyond the 2030s.

The carrier opened this week’s air show with a $52 billion order for 90 more Boeing 777X airplanes, saying the U.S. planemaker appeared to be getting a grip on regulatory and other problems surrounding its arrival after five years of delays.

But Emirates Airline President Tim Clark refused to place a large order for Airbus’ broadly similar A350-1000 and sharply criticised Rolls-Royce over engine durability in the region’s hot and sandy conditions.

Rolls-Royce acknowledged its engine for the A350-1000 would need more servicing than Emirates would like, but denied Clark’s suggestion that the engine was “defective”.

Emirates has already ordered 50 A350-900s which are scheduled to arrive from August next year.

Delegates said earlier a top-up order for the same model would be seen as a consolation prize for Airbus after Boeing won the majority of deals, but leave questions over its ability to compete with Boeing’s 777X in the busy Gulf wide-body market.

Investors are expected to quiz Rolls-Royce about the durability and pricing of its engines at a Nov. 28 investor day.

Boeing Dominates Orders

In a week dominated by soaring demand for wide-body planes, Boeing won new orders for 196 aircraft at the Dubai Airshow, while Airbus agreed deals for 55 jets.

Airbus said it had reached an “agreement in principle” for a significant order from Turkish Airlines , but industry sources said the deal had not yet been signed.

In addition to its deal for 90 777X jets, Emirates agreed to buy five additional 787 Dreamliners. Its sister airline flyDubai ordered 30 787 Dreamliners, its first wide-body order.

Turkey-based budget carrier SunExpress opened the show with an order for 45 Boeing 737 MAX narrow-bodies.

Ethiopian Airlines announced it was buying 20 737 MAX jets nearly five years after the fatal 2019 MAX crash that led to the grounding of the global fleet. It also ordered 11 Dreamliners.

EgyptAir said it was ordering 10 A350-900s from Airbus, while AirBaltic announced it was buying 30 Airbus A220-300s.

Royal Air Maroc signed a repeat order for two additional 787 Dreamliners. EgyptAir said it would lease 18 new Boeing 737 MAX jets from Air Lease Corp (AL.N).

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