DUBAI: Airbus and Emirates edged towards a consolation deal for a double-digit number of A350-900 jets on Thursday after a public row between the carrier and engine maker Rolls-Royce over a larger model dampened the end of the Dubai Airshow.

Industry sources said the two sides were trying to secure a compromise deal involving a switch from the A350-1000, Airbus’ largest twin-engined jet which has fallen under the spotlight over the amount of downtime needed in Gulf conditions.

The companies involved declined to comment.

Two sources cautioned that a final signature in time for the end of the Nov. 13-17 show could not be guaranteed.

Emirates is by far the biggest user of Airbus’s A380 superjumbo after investing heavily in the world’s largest airliner and is now planning the fleet needed to keep its Dubai super-hub at the centre of the aviation map beyond the 2030s.

The carrier opened this week’s air show with a $52 billion order for 90 more Boeing 777X airplanes, saying the US planemaker appeared to be getting a grip on regulatory and other problems surrounding its arrival after five years of delays.

Emirates Airlines has an exclusive invite-only tier for frequent fliers

But Emirates Airline President Tim Clark refused to place a large order for Airbus’ broadly similar A350-1000 and publicly criticised its engine maker Rolls-Royce over extra maintenance he said would be needed to cope with hot and sandy conditions.

Rolls-Royce acknowledged its engine for the A350-1000 would need more servicing than Emirates would like, but denied Clark’s suggestion that the engine was “defective”.

A compromise order for fewer than 20 A350-900s, which could still blow off course in final negotiations, would be seen as a consolation prize for Airbus after Boeing won the majority of orders, delegates said.

However, it would still leave questions over its ability to compete with Boeing’s 777X in the busy Gulf wide-body market, they added.


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