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Emirates buys 50 Airbus A350 jets for $16billion in down-scaled deal

Emirates airline has signed a deal to buy 50 Airbus jets worth a total of $16billion. 

Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, chairman of Emirates, announced he would buy the Airbus A350 jets the Dubai Air Show on Monday in a down-scaled deal that initially called for 70 planes worth $21billion.

Sheikh Maktoum added that his airline is still in talks with Boeing on a provisional order of 40 787 Dreamliner jets, in a blow for the American plane-maker.

Boeing has been beset by problems since two of its newest 737 Max jets crashed last year, killing more than 350 people and forcing it to ground its entire fleet.

Guillaume Faury, CEO of Airbus (left) and Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, CEO of Emirates (right), signed a deal for 50 A350 jets on Monday at the Dubai Air Show

Guillaume Faury, CEO of Airbus (left) and Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, CEO of Emirates (right), signed a deal for 50 A350 jets on Monday at the Dubai Air Show

The deal is a scaled-down version of an agreement between Emirates and Airbus for 70 aircraft worth $21billion, but still marks a major victory for the firm over rival Boeing

The deal is a scaled-down version of an agreement between Emirates and Airbus for 70 aircraft worth $21billion, but still marks a major victory for the firm over rival Boeing

Emirates, which operates the world's largest international fleet of aircraft, issued warnings to both Airbus and Boeing last month, bemoaning production delays and unreliable engines in their aircraft.

Monday's deal, the first major purchase of the air show, will be seen as a vote of confidence in the European company over and above Boeing.

Sheikh Maktoum said the new deal 'replaced' an agreement to purchase 70 Airbus aircraft, which had included 40 of the A330neo and 30 of the A350.

The new deal is worth $16billion at list prices, though large airlines often negotiate steep discounts. 

The A350 is slightly larger than the A330neo and slightly more expensive, though is lighter and therefore more fuel efficient.

Large airlines are increasingly opting for more efficient planes to reduce fuel cost duties and environmental levies.

It comes after Emirates significantly lowered its orders for Airbus's A380 jumbo jet, prompting the company to scrap production altogether.  

Monday's announcement by Emirates is the first major purchasing agreement to be unveiled at the biennial Dubai Airshow this year amid a slowdown in major purchases by the Middle East's big Gulf airlines. 

The airshow opened on Sunday and runs until Thursday on the grounds near Dubai's newest international airport.

On the first day of the conference just two aircraft were sold - Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners to Biman Bangladesh Airlines, worth almost $600million. 

Abu Dhabi's flagship carrier Etihad Airways said Monday it's launching one of the world's most fuel-efficient long-haul airplanes as the company seeks to save costs on fuel and position itself as a more environmentally-conscious choice for travelers.

Sheikh Maktoum said he is still in talks with Boeing over its 787 Dreamliner (pictured). The company has been beset by problems after two 737 Max jets crashed last year

Sheikh Maktoum said he is still in talks with Boeing over its 787 Dreamliner (pictured). The company has been beset by problems after two 737 Max jets crashed last year

Etihad's 'Greenliner' is a Boeing 787 Dreamliner that will depart on its first route from Abu Dhabi to Brussels in January 2020. 

Etihad's CEO Tony Douglas described the aircraft as a flying laboratory for testing that could benefit the entire industry.

With fuel costs eating up around a quarter of airline spending, Douglas said the goal of the Greenliner is to be 20% more fuel efficient than other aircraft in Etihad's fleet.

'This is not just a box-ticking exercise,' he told reporters at the unveiling of the initiative at the Dubai Airshow alongside executives from Boeing.

Douglas said the aircraft 'not only makes sense economically from a profit and loss account point of view, but because it also directly impacts the CO2 because of the fuel burn.'

Etihad has reported losses of $4.75 billion since 2016 as its strategy of aggressively buying stakes in airlines from Europe to Australia exposed the company to major risks.

Despite its financials, the airline continues to be among the most innovative.

This year, Etihad flew the world's first passenger flight using sustainable biofuel made from a plant that grows in saltwater. 

It also became the first in the Middle East to operate a flight without any single-use plastics on board to raise awareness of the effects of plastic pollution.

Aviation accounts for a small but rapidly growing share of greenhouse-gas emissions - about 2.5% worldwide. But forecasters expect air travel to grow rapidly in the coming years.

There's a small but growing movement in Europe and North America that's shunning air travel because it produces high levels of greenhouse gas emissions. 

The trend is most prominent in Sweden, where the likes of teen climate activist Greta Thunberg have challenged travelers to confront the huge carbon cost of flying.

Some campaigners are also 'flight shaming' travelers for their carbon footprint. Most recently, Prince Harry and his wife Meghan were criticized for flying on private jets this summer while calling for more action on climate change.

Etihad says it plans to make the Greenliner a 'social media star' to bring under sharper focus its developments and achievements worldwide. 

Douglas said anything that Eithad learns with Boeing from this aircraft's operations will be open domain knowledge 'because it's about moving the industry forward in a responsible fashion.'

'We're like a millennial and like all good millennials, they're really focused on the environment and the sustainability agenda,' Douglas said, referring to Etihad's 16 years in operation.

The Greenliner will be the only aircraft of its kind in Etihad's fleet of Dreamliners. The company currently has 36 of the 787s in its fleet with plans to operate 50.

'This is a small step today, but in a very, very long journey,' Douglas said.

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