Emirates Airline is demanding guarantees from Airbus that A380 production will continue in the long term before committing to another major order for the aircraft.

Emirates president Tim Clark told Reuters that “the ownership here is concerned about continuation.” He added that “they need some copper-bottom guarantees that if we do buy some more, then the line will be continued for a minimum period of years and that they are fully aware of the consequences of cancellation and leaving us high and dry.”

The Dubai-based carrier later confirmed the statements.

Clark said the airline wants Airbus to commit to continuing the A380 production for at least 10 years. Airbus currently has a backlog of 100 A380s remaining to be delivered, 42 of which are for Emirates. A large proportion of the remaining 58 aircraft looks shaky at best. A new commitment by Emirates, reportedly to be close to 40 aircraft, would drive the backlog back up to around 100 aircraft, which would be sufficient to fill the production line for more than 10 years at the low production rates currently anticipated. Airbus is in the process of reducing A380 output to 12 eight aircraft per in 2018 and eight from 2019 onward.

Sources at Airbus said negotiations were continuing and they were confident a solution could ultimately be found. Clark, too, said Airbus will eventually be willing to give the guarantees. The manufacturer hopes a new Emirates order will stimulate demand with other carriers for general demand to pick up over the years. A production rate of around eight aircraft per year, or possibly even seven, would allow Airbus to continue the program at losses that are considered to be digestible, industry sources said.

However, Airbus no longer seemed to expect the order to come through at the Dubai Air Show. Commercial Aircraft president Fabrice Brégier left the show Nov. 13 while Airbus CEO Tom Enders was expected to depart later in the day. COO-customers John Leahy was to remain the highest-ranking official on site.

Jens Flottau jens.flottau@aviationweek.com