Tuesday, June 08, 2010

The Talk of Berlin Air Show: Emirates Orders Another 32 A380s

[Above: The bathroom in the first-class cabin of the Emirates A380 fleet. Yes, that is a shower, and each first-class cabin has two such bathrooms.]

As a further example of the rebound in international travel, Emirates created a great big stir today at the Berlin Air Show by announcing that it has ordered an additional 32 Airbus A380 super-jumbo planes, valued at $11.5 billion.

Emirates is already by far the biggest customer for the double-decker A380. The new order will bring to 90 the number of orders Emirates has for the Airbus airliner. Here's a link to the Emirates site describing its A380 service.

The deal for the new A380s was signed today by Emirates chairman Sheikh Ahmed Bin Saeed Al-Maktoum and Tom Enders, the Airbus CEO.

I've flown A380s on several occasions (though not Emirates), and I like these planes very much. For one thing, they're exceptionally quiet, with engine noise barely noticeable at cruise speed in the cabin. For another, they're spacious and comfortable -- if they're configured, as all have been so far, at 500 to 550 seats in three cabins. The A380 is rated for nearly 900 passengers in a one-cabin configuration, but so far no one has done that or said they would.

In addition to the orders placed today, Emirates has 48 Airbus 380s (9 of them have been delivered and are flying and the 10th is being delivered this week); 70 Airbus 350s; 18 Boeing 777-300s and 7 Boeing air freighters on order totaling 143 wide-body aircraft worth more than $48 billion. In a tough economic year for the airline industry, Emirates recently reported its 22nd year of profit, up 416 percent to $964 million over its 2008-09 profit of $187 million.

With the new Emirates deal, Airbus now has 234 firm orders for the A380 (30 have been delivered) and a total of 17 customers.


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