Emirates, the international airline of the United Arab Emirates, has become the first airline to sign a firm commitment and place a deposit for an order for the world’s largest airliner, the A3XX.
The agreement, the first to be signed since Airbus Industrie began formally offering the A3XX to airlines, covers five passenger versions, two freighters, and five options. Deliveries of the passenger A3XXs will begin in February 2006, and those of the freighters in spring 2008. The deal is valued at Dhs5.5 billion ($1.5 billion).
Emirates Chairman HH Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al-Maktoum and Airbus Industrie Chief Executive Officer Noel Forgeard signed the agreement at the Farnborough Air Show on 24th July, confirming the expression of interest announced in April.
Emirates plans to use the A3XXs to cope with passenger and cargo growth on trunk routes from its Dubai base, including services to London, Asia-Pacific and North America. Each of the A3XXs will seat 575 passengers in first, business and economy class, in greater comfort and with more spaciousness than any other airliner now flying or planned.
“Our success has been built on providing our passengers the highest standards of comfort, service and entertainment - a trend that the A3XX will help us to continue by introducing a new way of flying as the flagship of our fleet,” says Sheikh Ahmed “The A3XX will also enable us to carry more passengers to and from congested airports with limited take-off and landing slots.” With air travel due to double in the next 15 years, and triple in the next 22, a move towards larger aircraft such as the A3XX is the only practicable way to meet passenger demand.
Aimed at trunk routes among the world’s largest cities, the A3XX has, for the first time ever, been conceived right from the start in close partnership with 20 of the world’s leading airlines. The result is an aircraft that offers passengers wider seats and greater comfort, airlines 15 to 20 per cent better economy per seat, and the industry a modern flagship for the new millennium that is compatible with existing airports.
“Emirates has become one of the world’s leading airlines thanks to its ability to plan ahead and to have a clear vision of the future,” says Noel Forgeard. “I am sure that many other airlines will follow Emirates’ lead in becoming a launch customer for the A3XX and share the same vision, ensuring the success of the programme.”
Airbus Industrie began formally offering the A3XX to customers in June, with a full programme launch planned by the end of this year. First flight of the A3XX is due in 2004, and first deliveries to customers in the last quarter of 2005.
Emirates has yet to chose between Engine Alliance GP7200 and Rolls-Royce Trent 900 engines to power its A3XXs.
A total of nine companies, including Emirates, have expressed interest in acquiring more than 50 A3XXs.