A preliminary deal to sell 36 A380s to Emirates blew up in an Airbus hospitality chalet moments before the Gulf carrier was expected to shower US$30 billion on the planemaker and its US rival Boeing at the start of last week’s Dubai Airshow, Reuters reports.
Two top Emirates officials broke the news to Airbus CEO Tom Enders and his sales chief John Leahy that the widely expected US$16 billion deal would not be signed that day, leaving uncertainty over the future of the world’s largest jetliner.
The halt came so swiftly that Airbus PR executives who were already in place for a double-signing ceremony a hundred yards away found themselves awkwardly among the audience as Boeing walked away with the sole Emirates order, worth US$15 billion.
The unusual stumble in slick air show choreography highlights problems over timing and trust that may even now complicate a deal between Airbus and Emirates, people aware of the matter said.
One of the closest and most successful relations in aviation is looking bruised and throws up new complications for Airbus just as it struggles to maintain business as usual at a time when it faces British and French compliance probes.
A day after Airbus’s hopes were dashed, airline president Tim Clark publicly delivered a message from Dubai’s government saying it wanted a guarantee from Airbus that it would keep producing the A380 for 10 years, before the state-owned carrier would agree to placing a new order.
Enders emailed Clark calling the ultimatum, first reported by Reuters, unhelpful, two people aware of the matter said.
Airbus and Emirates declined comment.
“There is a worrying breakdown of the relationship between Airbus and Emirates,” said a person familiar with the talks.
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