DUBAI – Emirates Airline on Sunday renewed its aircraft buying spree, committing to purchase $15.1 billion worth of Boeing Co. 787 Dreamliners.
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Boeing bested Airbus in the competition to sell Emirates Airline, the world's largest carrier by international traffic, new twin-engine long-haul planes. Emirates will buy 40 of Boeing's new 787-10, the largest model in the family of Dreamliner composite airliners, with deliveries planned to start in 2022.
The deal, announced by Emirates Airline on home turf at the Dubai Air Show, is a painful loss for Airbus which once had sold the carrier 70 of its rival A350 before the carrier canceled the deal three years ago after the European plane maker redesigned the plane.
Emirates Airline Chairman Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum said the 787 was "the better option" for the airline.
Sheikh Ahmed earlier this month signaled he was also in talks with Airbus about placing another order for A380 superjumbos. Airbus officials were waiting in the hallways at the air show to for their own deal announcement, only to be snubbed. An Airbus spokesman said the carrier wouldn't comment on the status of talks with customers.
The Boeing deal is a bet by Emirates Airline its business model of shuttling passengers between North America and Europe to Asia via Dubai will persist. It comes as Emirates is grappling with changes in its core market. Three years of relatively low oil prices have weighed on business class demand.
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Bookings this year also were hit by a U.S. travel bans against passengers from some Middle East countries, which were set aside by U.S. courts, and after American authorities temporarily imposed restriction on the use of laptops and similar electronic devices on U.S.-bound flights over terrorism concerns.
The airline last week reported half-year net profit more than doubled amid signs travel demand was recovering and bolstered by favorable currency exchange rates. The carrier warned, though, that margins remain under pressure.
Sheikh Ahmed aid the order signaled "confidence" in the country's growth.
Emirates also is the biggest buyer of Boeing 777s planes, the largest twin-engine airliner. The airline Sunday unveiled a new first class for those planes featuring six separate suites. The upgrade will also feature on the new Boeing 777X -- an upgrade of the current plane model -- Emirates expects to receive in 2020. That plane will also introduce a new business class for the airline known for its splashy amenities, Emirates Airline President Tim Clark said Sunday.
The first class suites also will eventually feature on the Airbus A380s, though reconfiguring the massive double-decker is taking some more time. Emirates Airline will shrink the first class to 11 suites from 14 seats.
Boeing also snagged a deal for five 787-8 planes, a smaller version of the Dreamlinre, from Azerbaijan Airlines. The order is valued at about $1.9 billion at list price, though buyers typically get discounts. It includes a plan by the carrier to acquire two large freight planes, either cargo models of Boeing's 777 or 747 planes.
Airbus, which so far this year has booked less than half the orders Boeing has secured, ended the first day of the Dubai Air Show without announcing any new deals.
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(END) Dow Jones Newswires
November 12, 2017 10:13 ET (15:13 GMT)