Emirates has placed an order worth $11.5 billion with Airbus for 32 more A380 Superjumbo aircraft on the opening day of the ILA Berlin Air Show.
The deal, which takes the number of A380s ordered by Emirates to 90, “shows our confidence in the future growth” of the airline industry, chief executive Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum said in Berlin.
The planes cost more than $300 million each at list prices, although Emirates is thought to have received significant discounts with its bulk orders.
The announcement comes as the airline said it was on track to make more than $1 billion in profits this year.
The Dubai-based carrier is also hoping this week to finalise the sale of its 43.6 percent stake in SriLankan Airlines for a figure of around $55m.
Emirates has long been expected to top up its already impressive order book, which stands at more than 150 wide-body aircraft worth more than $40bn, after emerging from the global downturn in better shape than expected.
The airline earned just under $1bn in profits for its 2009-2010 fiscal year to the end of March.
Profits “will be bigger than that this year”, said Time Clark, President, Emirates Airline. He added that passenger and cargo demand remain strong. “We will exceed it. We are well ahead [of our forecasts] already.”
The profits are being driven by the carrier’s extensive network of more than 100 connections that has enabled it to reach a “critical mass” of demand even during down periods
The airline has a focus on connecting previously unconnected city-pairs around the world through just one stop in Dubai – such as Rio de Janeiro and Tokyo.
The potential A380 order could come as a surprise to some after Emirates officials had said airport capacity at Dubai International Airport, the airline’s home for at least another 12 years before it moves to the new Al Maktoum International Airport in Jebel Ali, would be a limiting factor.