Emirates has ordered 41 additional Airbus aircraft, comprising two A340-500s, 18 A340-600s and 21 A380s, in the largest single order ever placed by the airline. In addition, Emirates will lease two A340-600s and and two A380s from ILFC.

Adding to six previously ordered A340-500s and 22 A380s - including two Freighters – the new order highlights Emirates' determination to continue as one of the world’s fastest growing and most succesful airlines. It also makes it the largest customer for the A340-500/600, and puts it even further ahead on the A380.

Deliveries of the newly ordered A340-500s begin at the end of 2004, those of the A340-600s in June 2007, and those of the A380s in spring 2009. The A340-500s and –600s will be powered by Rolls-Royce Trent 500s – the A380 engines have yet to be announced.

"Airbus' A340-500, –600 and A380 are the best solution for the increase in capacity, range and economy that we need to satisfy our rapid passenger growth and ever expanding network," said Emirates Chairman HH Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al-Maktoum. "We especially like the go-anywhere flexibility of the four-engined A340-500 and -600, which will take the world’s longest routes in their stride. We are also very excited by the ability to carry more passengers in the A380 and by its outstanding economics – in fact we could already use some of them today."

Emirates is Airbus' largest Middle East customer with 110 Airbus aircraft ordered in total.

"Emirates' latest order for Airbus aircraft highlights the vision, ambition and determination that have helped grow it into the tremendously successful carrier that it is today," said Airbus Chief Executive Officer Noël Forgeard. "Airbus has been Emirates' partner in growth and success for almost two decades, and is delighted to be flying with it into the 21st Century with the world’s newest and largest aircraft."

Emirates has chosen an A340-600 version with additional payload/range flexibility via an increased 376 tonnes maximum take-off weight (MTOW). As with its other aircraft, Airbus will offer different A340-600 MTOWs, including today's 365 and 368 tonnes. Emirates' A340-500s and –600s will seat around 260 and 310 passengers, respectively. The A340-500s will initially open new nonstop routes from Dubai to Australia and the US east coast. Later, A340-600s will replace them on these and some Asian routes – with the A340-500s then flying even longer sectors.

Emirates plans three versions of the Airbus A380, with 500-650 seats. It will initially deploy A380s on its busiest trunk routes to Europe and Asia but, as traffic grows, most of its network will eventually be served by the new 21st Century flagship.

With the A330/A340 and A380 sharing the same basic cockpit, Emirates is well placed to benefit from savings in pilot training and greater scheduling flexibility.

Firm orders for the A330/A340 family now stand at almost 800 from over 60 customers, and those for the A380 at 116 from eight customers (124 from ten clients including commitments from Malaysia and Qatar Airways). Airbus is an EADS joint Company with BAE SYSTEMS.