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Long-haul carrier Emirates signals holding off on major Airbus purchase

DUBAI (AP) – Long-haul carrier Emirates signaled yesterday it will hold off on a major purchase of Airbus A350 aircraft over concerns about their Rolls Royce engines, marking a major blow for the European manufacturer as it hopes to close the sale during the Dubai Air Show this week.

Emirates President Tim Clark’s comments to journalists at the show came the day after his airline announced a USD52 billion purchase with Airbus’ rival Boeing Co, while its sister airline FlyDubai bought another USD11 billion of aircraft from Boeing.

Meanwhile, Ethiopian Airlines said it was buying 31 aircraft from Boeing, including 20 737 MAX aircraft in a sign of renewed confidence in the single-aisle aircraft by the carrier after it suffered a deadly crash in 2019 with the airplane that led to its worldwide grounding.

Airbus has yet to strike a major deal at the show, which comes as global airlines like Emirates have bounced back from the lockdowns of the coronavirus pandemic with increased global demand for travel.

In his comments to journalists at the Emirates chalet on the runway of Al Maktoum International Airport, Clark raised concerns about the maintenance required for the Rolls Royce engines on the A350.

“If the engine was doing what we want it to do… then it would re-enter the mix of assessment for our fleet plan,” Clark said.

President of the long-haul airline Emirates Tim Clark. PHOTO: AP