DUBAI, Nov 16 (Reuters) – Airbus (AIR.PA) won a consolation order for 15 more A350-900s from Emirates on Thursday after a public row between the Middle Eastern 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 aircraft would “add to our fleet, and we are pleased to announce additional orders for this type of aircraft”.
Industry sources described the $6 billion deal as a compromise after Emirates publicly criticized the performance and cost of the A350-1000’s Rolls-Royce engines due to the downtime required in the conditions difficult in the Gulf.
Sheikh Ahmed said Emirates would “work closely with Airbus and Rolls-Royce to ensure our aircraft deliver the best possible operational efficiency and flying experience for our customers.”
Emirates is by far the largest user of the Airbus A380 after investing heavily in the world’s largest jetliner, and is now planning the fleet needed to keep its Dubai super-hub at the center 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 planes, saying the U.S. maker appeared to have a handle on regulatory and other issues related to its arrival after a five-year delay.
But Emirates Airline chairman Tim Clark refused to place a major order for Airbus’ very similar A350-1000 and sharply criticized Rolls-Royce for the durability of its engines in hot, sandy conditions of the region.
Rolls-Royce acknowledged that its engine for the A350-1000 would require more maintenance than Emirates would like, but denied Clark’s suggestion that the engine was “defective”.
Emirates has already ordered 50 A350-900s, scheduled to arrive from August next year.
Delegates earlier said a follow-up order for the same model would be seen as a consolation prize for Airbus after Boeing won the majority of contracts, but left questions over its ability to compete with Boeing’s 777X on the very active market for wide-body aircraft in the Gulf.
Investors are expected to question Rolls-Royce on the durability and pricing of its engines at an investor day on November 28.
BOEING DOMINATES ORDERS
In a week dominated by growing demand for wide-body planes, Boeing won new orders for 196 aircraft at the Dubai Airshow, while Airbus secured deals for 55 planes.
Airbus said it had reached an “agreement in principle” for a large 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 has agreed to purchase five additional 787 Dreamliners. Its sister airline flyDubai has ordered 30 787 Dreamliners, its first widebody order.
Turkish airline SunExpress opened the show with an order for 45 narrow-body Boeing 737 MAX aircraft.
Ethiopian Airlines announced the purchase of 20 737 MAX planes almost five years after the fatal 2019 MAX crash that led to the grounding of the global fleet. It also ordered 11 Dreamliners.
EgyptAir announced it was ordering 10 A350-900s from Airbus, while AirBaltic announced it was purchasing 30 Airbus A220-300s.
Royal Air Maroc has signed a new order for two additional 787 Dreamliners. EgyptAir announced that it will lease 18 new Boeing 737 MAX aircraft from Air Lease Corp (AL.N).
Reporting by Tim Hepher, Alexander Cornwell and Pesha Magid; Editing by Jan Harvey
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