By Alwyn Scott
Sept 27 (Reuters) - Confirming growing demand for the world’s largest airliner, a top executive of Emirates Airline said on Thursday the company would be willing to buy another 40 Airbus A380 jets, but that the fast-growing Dubai airport where the airline is based is short of room for them.
Emirates Airline President Tim Clark had already said the airline wants another 30 A380s, on top of 90 already on order. Increasing that number to 40 suggests demand is rising for the A380 made by the Airbus unit of Europe’s EADS.
Emirates, by far the largest customer for the A380, whose list price is $390 million, had 23 of the superjumbo jets in service at the end of August.
Clark, speaking at an industry conference in Seattle, said there are seven A380s waiting in Hamburg, Germany, for delivery as part of the normal deliver schedule. He is not worried about his airline’s strong growth being affected by recession in Europe, slowing growth in China and unrest in the Middle East. Dubai, he said, “is a honey pot. There is no place better, except maybe China.”
Clark has been ratcheting up his demand for the 525-seat A380 jet since he surprised the aviation world in 2010 by saying the airline could buy 120 of the aircraft.
Emirates, one of Dubai’s most prized assets, has continued to grow rapidly despite a regional debt crisis followed by a wider recession affecting the airline industry and high fuel prices.
“We don’t cancel orders,” Clark said. “We get on with it.”
If Emirates carried out its ambition of operating a fleet of 130 A380s, adding 40 to its current order of 90, it would control a fleet worth over $50 billion at list prices and extend its dominance as the European planemaker’ s largest customer.
Regarding the development of a revamped Boeing Co 777, Clark said that the first of its fleet of 777-300-ER jets are due to be retired in 2017, and Emirates would like to replace them with the updated 777, which promises much greater efficiencies.
Given that deadline, he said it was a good time to start “bellyaching” to get a new jet started. “I‘m hoping to see it sooner rather than later.”
A Boeing official said the company is developing options and “when we are satisfied with the risks, costs and schedule, we intend to present a plan for offering the airplane to customers that would enter the market late this decade.”