French PM oversees major Airbus deal signed in Dubai

12/02/2018 | 258 words

French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe on Sunday hailed the signing in Dubai of a $16 billion purchase by Emirates Airlines of the Airbus A380 superjumbo commercial airliner.

"This is obviously excellent news for the French aerospace industry and for the European industry as a whole, as it allows Airbus to consider continuing production of the A380," the visiting premier told reporters on the sidelines of the World Government Summit.

The deal was signed by Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, the Emirates chairman and CEO of Emirates, and Mikhail Houari, president of Airbus Middle East.

In December, Emirates agreed to buy 20 of the double-decker aircraft with an optional 16 more, just days after the European manufacturer said it would have to halt production if no new orders were received.

The economics of the 853-seat, four-engine A380 have proved daunting, with airlines having to operate every flight at full capacity in order to make a profit.

The Emirates order was in question after the November Dubai Airshow, when the UAE airline inked a deal with competitor Boeing to buy 40 Dreamliners for more than $15 billion.

Sunday's closing of the deal represents a lifeline for Airbus.

A major transcontinental air routes transit hub, Dubai is one of several Gulf-based airports to have experienced prodigious growth in recent years.

Dubai airport was the world's busiest for international passengers in 2017 for the fourth year running, with 88.2 million travellers.

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