A $16 billion order for 50 Airbus long-range aircraft was made today by Emirates.

Delivery of the first A350 XWB is expected in May 2023 and will continue until 2028.

The deal replaces a ‘heads of agreement’ signed in February where the airline announced its intent to purchase 30 A350s and 40 A330Neos.

The A350 will enable Emirates to serve a range of new markets, not only in region but also on long-haul destinations of up to 15 hours of flying time from Dubai.

The carrier plans to offer different cabin configurations including premium economy.

Emirates currently operates an all wide-body fleet including A380 superjumbo and Boeing 777.

Chairman and CEO Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum said: “Today, we are pleased to sign a firm order for 50 A350 XWBs, powered by Rolls-Royce Trent XWB engines.

“This follows a thorough review of various aircraft options and of our own fleet plans. It is Emirates’ long-standing strategy to invest in modern and efficient aircraft, and we are confident in the performance of the A350 XWB.

“Complementing our A380s and 777s, the A350s will give us added operational flexibility in terms of capacity, range and deployment.

“In effect, we are strengthening our business model to provide efficient and comfortable air transport services to, and through, our Dubai hub.”

He added: “This $16 billion deal reflects our confidence in the future of the UAE’s aviation sector, and is a strong affirmation of Dubai’s strategy to be a global nexus connected to cities, communities and economies via a world-class and modern aviation sector.”

Airbus CEO Guillaume Faury said: “The A350 will bring unbeatable economics and environmental benefits to their fleet.”