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Monday, 5 November, 2001, 06:48 GMT
Emirates airline's $15bn plane order
Boeing 777 in Emirates colours
Emirates has ordered 25 Boeing 777s
Dubai's Emirates airline has ordered 58 new wide-body aircraft worth about $15bn (10bn), despite a major slump in the global aviation business.

"This is one of the biggest orders in aviation history," an Emirates spokesman told BBC News Online.

This provides confirmation of the engineering work in our facilities in the UK and later when production comes, there will be more manufacturing jobs in 2004/5.

Noel Forgeard
Airbus chief executive
The orders come as the airline industry faces a major downturn - with an estimated 200,000 jobs lost - due to the global economic slowdown and the 11 September attacks on the US.

"The timing of this order, hard on the heels of recent events, is no coincidence. We are determined not to allow present difficulties to deflect our resolve," Emirates chairman Sheik Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum said in a statement.

The airline had previously said it planned to increase its fleet from about 34 to 100 aircraft by 2010.

The order includes 25 Boeing 777s worth $6.6bn, while15 more Airbus A380 super jumbos and confirmation of an existing seven, eight A340-600s and three A330s is valued at $8.4bn.

"While Boeing have signed only a letter of intent, for Airbus these are firm contracts for the A380s. It's a very important deal," said an Airbus spokeswoman.

Powered by Rolls-Royce

Aero engine maker Rolls-Royce will be a major beneficiary with the announcement of a $50m order for the Airbus 330 engines with another $250m due imminently.

The Emirates fleet currently uses mainly Rolls Royce engines but also some from Pratt and Whitney, a subsidiary of United Technologies.

A Rolls-Royce spokesman said he was "delighted" by the confirmation of the orders but said they would not change the 5,000 job cuts made in October.

British benefits

The deal is also a big boost for BAE Systems, a 20% stake holder in Airbus, and European Aeronautic Defence & Space (EADS), which owns the other 80% of Airbus.

It (Dubai) is going to be a boom city over the next 10 or 12 years in which ways that will generate air traffic

Maurice Flanagan, Emirates airline managing director
Wings for Airbus planes are built in Britain before being flown to Toulouse in France for assembly.

"This provides confirmation of the engineering work in our facilities in the UK and later when production comes, there will be more manufacturing jobs in 2004/5," Airbus chief executive Noel Forgeard said.

He told the BBC's World Business Report: "We are in a period in which each year our world market share increases. I think we are relatively weathering the storm."

Airbus has now collected signed orders for 70 of the 555-seat A380s, with a target of 100 by the end of the first quarter next year.

Last month, Airbus said they were freezing investment rather than cutting jobs.

The news is unlikely to make any difference to Boeing's decision to cut 30,000 jobs in the wake of the 11 September attacks.

"As you know, these airplanes don't deliver until 2004. The workforce reduction we have announced is really to respond to the drop in production next year and in 2003.

"Unfortunately, I can't say that this order has an impact in the immediate future," a Boeing spokesman said.

'Boom city'

Emirates managing director Maurice Flanagan said the airline needed to increase capacity to cope with the growth of Dubai as a businesss and tourist destination.

"It [Dubai] is going to be a boom city over the next 10 or 12 years in which ways that will generate air traffic, through tourism and commerce, in quite a massive way," he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

Although traffic had dropped off in the immediate aftermath of 11 September, he added, it had now returned to normal.

"I think there has been quite a lot of over-reaction from some airlines although is easy for me to say that because we don't have capacity on the Atlantic," Mr Flanagan added.

He said the company would begin flying Atlantic routes in 2003.

The BBC's Julia Wheeler
"The news of $15bn in orders will be welcomed by anyone who wants to see industry recover"
The BBC's Elliott Gotkine
"Everyone seems to be a winner"
Emirates managing director Maurice Flanagan
"We are based in Dubai which is a great place for an airline to be"
See also:

05 Nov 01 | Business
Ryanair profits soar
19 Sep 01 | Business
Turmoil threatens superjumbo orders
20 Sep 01 | Business
Airbus freezes expansion plans
24 Jul 00 | Business
Airbus clinches super jumbo deals
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