Emirates announces $16bn order for 50 A350XWB

Emirates has announced an order for 50 A350-900 aircraft with an estimated value of US$16 billion (£12.4bn) at list prices. The announcment was made on the second day of the Dubai Airshow 2019, with delivery of the first A350XWB aircraft expected in May 2023.

Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Emirates Chairman and Chief Executive, signed the deal with Guillaume Faury, Chief Executive Officer from Airbus.

This purchase agreement replaces the heads of agreement signed in February where Emirates announced its intent to purchase 30 A350s and 40 A330Neos. That move ultimately led to Airbus cancelling the A380 programme.

Speaking on the order, Sheikh Ahmed said, “Today, we are pleased to sign a firm order for 50 A350 XWBs, powered by Rolls-Royce Trent XWB engines.”

“It is Emirates’ long-standing strategy to invest in modern and efficient aircraft, and we are confident in the performance of the A350 XWB.

“Complementing our A380s and 777s, the A350s will give us added operational flexibility in terms of capacity, range and deployment.”

The future of Emirates’ long-haul fleet?

Emirates has typically prided itself on the simplicity of its fleet. Indeed, the airline currently only operates a fleet of A380 and 777 aircraft. However, in recent years, the airline has made a series of decisions that have put that strategy into question. 

In 2017, Emirates announced plans to order 787-10s. Those orders never materialised, with the airline instead opting for the 777X. The status of the 777X order also remains unclear, however, with rumours of a renogotiation. Now, having backtracked on the A330-900neo, Emirates’ lack of direction has become clear, though perhaps the A350 will be the solution Emirates needs. 

Regardless, the move is no doubt good news for Airbus. In addition to the Emirates order, the European aircraft manufacturer secured another deal this weekend with low-cost carrier Air Arabia worth US$14 billion (£10.8bn).

The airline placed an order for 120 Airbus A320s, including 70 A320neos, with the remaining 50 aircraft consisting of A321 XLR aircraft and A321 neos.

The 2019 Dubai Airshow runs until this Thursday, 21 November.