Emirates orders 15 Airbus A350-900 aircraft after an engine dispute over a larger aircraft

DUBAI (Reuters) – Airbus won a consolation order for 15 additional A350-900 planes from Emirates on Thursday after a public row between the Middle East giant and engine maker Rolls-Royce (RR.L) prevented a deal from happening. Deal for a larger model at the Dubai Air Show.

Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman and CEO of Emirates Airlines, said that the long-haul aircraft “will add to our fleet mix, and we are pleased to announce additional orders for this type of aircraft.”

Industry sources described the $6 billion deal as a compromise after Emirates publicly criticized the performance and cost of the Rolls-Royce engines for the A350-1000 due to the amount of downtime needed in harsh Gulf conditions.

Sheikh Ahmed said that Emirates will “work closely with Airbus and Rolls-Royce to ensure that our aircraft provide the best possible operational efficiency and flying experience for our customers.”

Emirates is by far the largest user of the Airbus A380 after investing heavily in the world’s largest passenger aircraft, and is now planning the fleet needed to keep its large hub in Dubai at the center of the aviation map beyond the 2030s.

The airline opened the air show this week with a $52 billion order for 90 additional Boeing 777X planes, saying the U.S. planemaker appeared to have control over regulatory and other problems surrounding their arrival after five years of delays.

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But Emirates President Tim Clark refused to place a large order for a very similar Airbus A350-1000 and harshly criticized Rolls-Royce over engine durability in the region’s hot and sandy conditions.

Rolls-Royce admitted that its A350-1000 engine would need more maintenance than Emirates wanted, but denied Clarke’s suggestion that the engine was “defective”.

Emirates has already ordered 50 A350-900 aircraft and they are scheduled to arrive from August next year.

Representatives said earlier that an additional order for the same model would be seen as a consolation prize for Airbus after Boeing won most of the deals, but they left questions about its ability to compete with Boeing’s 777X in the crowded Gulf wide-body market.

Investors are expected to grill Rolls-Royce about the durability of its engines and pricing at its investor day on November 28.

Boeing dominates orders

In a week dominated by high demand for wide-body aircraft, Boeing won new orders for 196 aircraft at the Dubai Air Show, while Airbus agreed to deals for 55 aircraft.

Airbus said it had reached an “agreement in principle” on a large order from Turkish Airlines, but industry sources said the agreement had not yet been signed.

In addition to its deal to purchase 90 777X aircraft, Emirates has agreed to purchase five additional 787 Dreamliner aircraft. Sister airline flydubai has ordered 30 787 Dreamliners, its first order for wide-body aircraft.

SunExpress, a Turkey-based low-cost airline, opened the show with an order for 45 Boeing 737 MAX narrow-body aircraft.

Ethiopian Airlines announced it will buy 20 737 MAX aircraft nearly five years after the deadly 2019 MAX crash grounded the global fleet. It also ordered 11 Dreamliner aircraft.

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EgyptAir said it had ordered 10 A350-900 aircraft from Airbus, while AirBaltic announced that it would purchase 30 Airbus A220-300 aircraft.

Royal Air Maroc has signed a repeat order for two additional 787 Dreamliner aircraft. EgyptAir said it will lease 18 new Boeing 737 MAX aircraft from Air Lease Corp (AL.N).

(Reporting by Tim Heffer, Alexander Cornwell and Bisha Majid – Prepared by Mohammed for the Arab Bulletin) Editing by Jan Harvey

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