DUBAI (Reuters) – Dubai wants a guarantee that Airbus (AIR.PA) will keep production of the A380 superjumbo open for at least 10 years before state-owned Emirates places a new order for the world’s largest jetliner, the airline’s president said on Monday.
Speaking to Reuters at the Dubai Airshow, Tim Clark also said the largest Middle East carrier would probably stick with the Boeing 787 for its mid-sized fleet needs after ordering 40 of the jets on Sunday and could order more of them in future.
Airbus declined comment.
Airbus’s hopes of a new order from leading customer Emirates for the slow-selling A380 were thwarted on Sunday when the airline unveiled a surprise order for 40 Boeing 787-10 jets worth $15.1 billion (11.51 billion pounds) at list prices, but no European contract.
Delegates said negotiations continued overnight and that Airbus may be willing to meet Dubai’s conditions in order to secure a much-needed order for its flagship product.
“We continue to have a dialogue with them,” Clark told Reuters. “If that comes to some kind of fruition during the course of the week or the next few months is very much down to them.”
With 100 A380s already in the fleet but doubts hanging over the aircraft’s future, Clark made plain the concerns about Airbus’ future commitment to the programme were felt at the shareholder level. Emirates is owned by the Dubai government.
“I think the ownership here are concerned about continuation (of the A380). They need some copper-bottom guarantees that if we do buy some more, then the line will be continued for a minimum period of years and that they are fully aware of the consequences of cancellation and leaving us high and dry.”
“Those assurances I am sure will come. Quite when, I don’t quite know.”
The unusual demand for industrial guarantees has become central to whether Airbus can pull off a lifeline deal for the A380 at the Nov 12-16 air show. Such a pledge would probably be a matter for the Airbus board, industry sources said.
“There has to be a fleshing out of the undertakings. My own view is that Airbus are ready to make those, but whether it is today or tomorrow or next week or in the next few months, I don’t know. They (Airbus leaders) are all here,” Clark said.
Delegates said Airbus was trying to finalise a deal but any announcement would not come before midday on Monday when Emirates was due to open the region’s largest pilot academy.