Written by Ryan Gibbons

The Dubai Air Show was, as expected, a flurry of orders for both Airbus and Boeing, selling upwards of $50 billion.

READ MORE: Analysis: The Dubai Air Show Wraps-up – Numbers and Prospects

Airbus’s orders came primarily from the IndiGo’s purchase of 430 A320neo aircraft, in addition to 25 other A320neo, two A330neos, five C295s, and three H160 helicopters.


On Boeing’s side, 225 737 MAXs to flydubai, six 787-9 Dreamliners, four 777-Fs, 20 additional 737MAXs, and five 787-8 Dreamliners held the bulk of Boeing’s strong sales at DAS.

However, notably, Boeing booked one incredibly important additional order: Emirates purchased 40 787-10 Dreamliners for an estimated $15.1 billion, with deliveries starting in 2022.

READ MORE: Dubai Air Show: Emirates orders 46 Boeing 787-10, Unveils New 777 First Class Cabin

This came as a strong blow to Airbus, who was expecting an order for 36 A380s, only to be stunned by Emirate’s last-minute decision – a strike that just may be the last straw for the struggling A380.

Even before DAS, there was substantial speculation as to whether or not an Emirates order would be enough to keep the struggling aircraft alive.

The A380 has had chronically poor sales throughout its lifetime, which has only been further hit by the availability of large, two-engine, more efficient jetliners.

READ MORE: Emirates Receives its 100th Airbus A380

Airbus was hoping to bag this order to promote further production and sales of their Superjumbo; however, Emirates ultimately opted against the A380 by ordering 787-10 Dreamliners.

This order of Dreamliners indicates the future of Emirates’ fleet, focusing more on efficiency than size. Emirates had long been the largest and most loyal operator of A380s, having ordered a total of 142 aircraft – 65% of total A380 orders.

Their moving away from the Superjumbo is alarming, as they have long supported the production of the aircraft and arguably are solely the reason the A380 is still in production today.

READ MORE: Analysis: A Decade of A380, Success or Failure? – Part I | Part II

Emirates moving away from the A380 would be devastating to Airbus, as it would effectively eliminate any possible justification for the continuation of Superjumbo production.

Furthermore, this shift demonstrates the advantage that Boeing two-engine widebodies currently hold over the A380. In addition to the 787-10 orders, Emirates has 164 Boeing aircraft on order, including 150 777-Xs—an indirect competitor to the A380, seating 414 as opposed to the A380’s 544, while also being considerably more efficient.

When all aircraft are delivered, Emirates will have a fleet consisting of only 32% Airbus aircraft (A380s) – incredibly low for the A380’s biggest customer.

Emirates turning away from ordering A380s is a serious indication of the future of the aircraft.

The Superjumbo just lost an order from its biggest and most important customer to a competitor, demonstrating a general shift away from the A380.

While there is still hope that additional large orders for the A380 may come, or that Emirates may eventually come through on an additional order, one thing is clear: the A380 is a sinking ship, and the last crutch keeping it afloat just gave out.