LONDON –  Just hours after Airbus announced the end of the A380 production in 2021, Emirates announced a new order for 70 new aircraft: 40 A330-900neos and 30 A350-900XWB.

The carrier said that after discussions with Airbus, and in light of the latest developments with aircraft and engine technologies, that they will be reducing their A380 order book from 162 to 123 aircraft, taking delivery of 14 more A380s over the next two years.

Airbus CEO, Tom Enders, said that the decision to end the A380 production was taken because “we have no substantial A380 backlog and hence no basis to sustain production, despite all our sales efforts with other airlines in recent years.”

Enders explained that the superjumbo will end its deliveries deliveries in 2021.

“The consequences of this decision are largely embedded in our 2018 full year results,” he said.

Rising fuel and oil costs and pilot shortages have seen many airlines either store or return their A380s to its lessors.

Singapore Airlines withdrew the first Airbus A380 ever delivered from their fleet last year. The aircraft, 9V-SKA, was delivered in October 2007 and was just a young 11 years old at the time of retirement.

Later on, Air France decided to return five of its leased A380s to its owners, keeping only the owned planes in operation.

And seeing these two important A380 operators not renewing their leasing agreements suggest that the operational numbers are not adding up.

“The A380 is not only an outstanding engineering and industrial achievement,” Enders added. “Passengers all over the world love to fly on this great aircraft. Hence today’s announcement is painful for us and the A380 communities worldwide.”

With an end of production date set for 2021, Enders noted that “A380s will still roam the skies for many years to come and Airbus will, of course, continue to fully support the A380 operators.”

Qatar Airways CEO, Akbar Al Baker, also revealed last week that he intends to operate the A380 until the planes reach 10 years in operation, after which the leasing agreement on the planes end. Therefore, plenty of A380s will be soaring the skies at least until 2030.

PHOTO: Emirates.

His Highness Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, the Chairman and CEO at Emirates, revealed that “after many months of discussions, we have come to an agreement with Airbus and Rolls-Royce.”

“Emirates has been a staunch supporter of the A380 since its very inception. While we are disappointed to have to give up our order, and sad that the programme could not be sustained, we accept that this is the reality of the situation.”

“For us, the A380 is a wonderful aircraft loved by our customers and our crew. It is a differentiator for Emirates,” Al Maktoum said.

“We have shown how people can truly fly better on the A380, and Emirates has set the standards for that by introducing customer experiences that are unique to the A380 like our Shower Spas and Onboard Lounge,” he added.

As far as Al Maktoum is concerned, the A380 will remain a pillar of the airline’s fleet well into the 2030s.

The UAE flag carrier remains as the biggest operator of the A380.

Guillaume Faury, President of Airbus Commercial Aircraft and future Airbus CEO, also said during the conference that the A380 remains as “Emirates’ flagship and has contributed to the airline’s success for more than ten years.”

Big Boost For The A330neo Program

Faury highlighted that the Airbus team does welcome the airline’s position, selecting the A330neo and A350 for its future growth, which is “a great endorsement of our very competitive widebody aircraft family.”

This announcement by Emirates today will have shocked many after the carrier scrapped the orders it had placed for the A350 back in 2014.

Emirates’ selection of the Boeing 787-10 represented a major loss for Airbus. Back at the 2007 Dubai Air Show, the airline had ordered 70 Airbus A350s in lieu of the Boeing 787. However, Emirates changed its mind and canceled the order for the Airbus wide-body in 2014.

Photo Airbus: Emirates A330-900neo concept

When asked about his decision to purchase the A330neos and A350s Al Maktoum said that the airline’s fleet strategy to operate a young, modern, and efficient all-widebody fleet remains unchanged.

“The 40 A330neos and 30 A350s that we are ordering today will complement Emirates’ fleet mix, support our network growth, and give us more flexibility to better serve seasonal or opportunistic demand. Both the A330neos and A350s will play an important role in our future fleet and network plans,” he said.

Emirates Boeing 787 Dreamliner

It is clear that the UAE carrier has no intentions of leaving Airbus out of its future plans, even if the A380 is no longer the aircraft for them.

Extra: Read our analysis on the Airbus A380 Program Shutdown below: