MIAMI — Not letting Boeing hog all the order glory in Dubai, Airbus also racked up several major orders for a wide array of aircraft, including the A380 and A350.

To start things off on the right tone, Emirates announced a massive order for 50 A380-800s, which will bring their fleet to a grand total of 140. This is the largest ever order for the A380, valued at about $20 billion at list price. “The A380 continues to be the flagship of our fleet and after five years in operation it remains highly popular with our passengers,” said HH Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al-Maktoum, Chairman and Chief Executive of Emirates Airline and Group. “It is still one of the most efficient aircraft to operate today in terms of fuel burn and emissions per passenger, and it gives us the flexibility in some cases to meet passenger demand in slot-constrained markets. This latest order will help us meet both fleet expansion and fleet replacement needs.”

Emirates has already taken delivery of 39 A380s, and this order will put approximately half of all A380s ever produced in their fleet. In fact, Emirates is such a fan of the A380, that they have constructed an entire terminal in Dubai which will only serve the super aircraft. Emirates is now the worlds largest airline in terms of long haul available seat miles, and this A380 order will only increase that.

While this order may be massive, it has been a rough year for the A380 program. The A380 had been the subject of quite a bit of “will it survive” chatter recently, with speculation putting it in the same category as the struggling Boeing 747-8 program. While the latest version of the 747 has yet to win any significant orders beyond the original Lufthansa order, this order marks the first in 2013 for the A380. Airbus recently cut the A380s production rate down to 14 this year, so an order for 50 should be a big boon for the A380 line which should keep it going for years to come.

After going shopping with Boeing and becoming the launch customer of the 777X, Etihad Airways also announced an order for a total of 50 A350 XWBs, 36 A320neo, and one sole A330-200F. On the widebody side of things, the A350 XWB order is comprised of 40 A350-900’s and ten of the larger A350-1000. The A350-900 enters into service next year, much sooner than the just launched 777X, and currently has 764 firm orders from 39 customers worldwide. As for narrowbody aircraft, Etihad split their A320neo order between 26 A321neo’s and 10 A320neo’s.

Rending of an Etihad A350-900. (Credits: Airbus S.A.S.)
Rending of an Etihad A350-900. (Credits: Airbus S.A.S.)


The A350-900 XWB is a direct competitor to the upcoming 787-10 while the the A350-1000 is a direct competitor to the new 777-8X.

Airbus recently provided the media with an A350 program update, where they confirmed Qatar is still slated as the first customer, with entry into service at the end of August or beginning of September of 2014, possibly pushing back to November or December.

While the air freight industry endures an economic slump which has held back the success of the 747-8F, the A330 Freighter saw a major order in Dubai. Qatar Airways, who already operates three A330-200Fs, ordered an additional 13 including options, worth up to $2.8bn at list prices. The A330-200F is the world’s most modern mid-size freighter and can carry 70 tonnes of payload, with a range capability of up to 4,000nm. The A330F’s are set to replace the airlines A300-600F’s. Qatar Cargo also operates the Boeing 777F.

A Qatar Cargo A330F takes off from Doha. (Credit: Jason Rabinowitz)
A Qatar Cargo A330F takes off from Doha. (Credits: Jason Rabinowitz)

At the end of day 1 in Dubai, a historic number of aircraft were purchased. While The A380 did indeed receive a much needed boost, most of the glory has gone to Boeing so far. Orders will continue to trickle in after today, but it is pretty clear that Boeing has won this round.