Emirates order helps to keep Airbus A380 superjumbo flying

19 2013 shows an Emirates Airline's Airbus A380 on display at the Dubai Airshow

19 2013 shows an Emirates Airline's Airbus A380 on display at the Dubai Airshow

If Emirates buys all 36, the deal is worth about $16 billion.

Earlier this week, Airbus confirmed a Reuters report that the A380's survival lay with Emirates, saying it would have "no choice" but to close production if the Emirates deal fell through despite interest in smaller orders from others.

Emirates is already the world's biggest customer for the A380 with 101 in its fleet and 41 more firm orders previously placed.

An Emirates Airbus A380-800 aircraft lands in Duesseldorf. The European aircraft manufacturer had said on Monday that without a deal with Emirates, the largest customer for the A380, it might have to stop production.

"We've been able to deploy it on different missions across our network, giving us flexibility in terms of range and passenger mix", Sheikh Ahmed said.

Emirates' A380 fleet operates both Engine Alliance and Rolls-Royce engines.

It said it regarded Emirates as the only airline with the capacity to place an order of the size required to keep production going.

As of the end of previous year, Airbus had a total of 95 unfilled A-380 orders, though only 48 of those, the vast bulk from Emirates, can be regarded as credible, according to Jefferies International analyst Sandy Morris.

Leahy said the A380s "contributed enormously" to Emirates' growth since 2008.

"We are still talking to Emirates but quite honestly they are the only one that has the ability in the marketplace to take a minimum of six a year for a period of eight to 10 years", Airbus's top salesperson, John Leahy, said during an in-house webinar.

"This new order underscores Airbus' commitment to produce the A380 at least for another 10 years", Leahy said. "I'm personally convinced more orders will follow Emirates' example".

Airbus is hoping China will lead a revival in orders once demand for long-haul planes picks up, arguing that the plane is ideally suited for mass-market travel and for heavily congested airports.

Airbus said it has delivered 222 A380s to 13 airlines so far.

Airbus shares rose more than 3 per cent after the announcement to touch a record high.

Calling the deal "a relief for Airbus", independent commercial aviation expert John Strickland said it probably saved the A-380 programme.

"It is not a guarantee of financial success for the programme but buys Airbus time to go out and secure additional orders from other airlines", he said.

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