Emirates receives its 100th A380 superjumbo as Airbus hopes for new deal

Middle Eastern airline Emirates has taken delivery of its 100th Airbus A380 at a ceremony at the plane manufacturer's delivery centre in Hamburg.

The delivery comes as question marks sit over the future the superjumbo, the world's largest passenger aircraft.

There was plenty of hype when Singapore Airlines launched the first A380 flight in 2005, with Sydney the superjumbo's first destination.

Timelapse: A380 gets a complete overhaul

Watch the first A380 delivered to Emirates go through a full overhaul. Footage - Emirates.

With a capacity for as many as 853 passengers (though no airline has actually configured one to fly with that many on board) the aircraft, with a list price of $US436.9 million, was hailed as a game changer.

But sales have slowed in recent years with some suggested that the era of the superjumbo may already be over, as airlines opt for smaller, more fuel-efficient new planes like the Boeing 787 Dreamliner and Airbus A350.

In July, Airbus announced it would be reducing the number of A380s it produces and plans to deliver just eight in 2019.

At last year's Farnborough Airshow in the UK the company said it would slow production to just 12 a year by 2018, down from a rate of 27 the year before.

See also: Superjumbo flop: The era of the A380 may already be over

But Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al-Maktoum, Emirates' chairman and chief executive, had nothing but praise for the superjumbo during the delivery of the 100th jet.

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"For Emirates, the A380 has been a success," he said. "We've been able to utilise it at slot-constrained airports, as well as at regional and 'secondary' airports where we have grown passenger demand. Each time we deploy an A380 onto a route, it typically stimulates further traffic and demand as travellers are attracted by our flagship A380 experience."

The airline has a further 42 A380s on order from Airbus. Emirates is now the only major customer for the double-decker, with 142 of the jet's 317 net orders as the airline uses the model as its flagship.

The European plane manufacturer is now hoping to sign Emirates to a follow-up deal that would bring much-needed relief to a program that's running out of orders as carriers pick smaller more fuel-efficient aircraft.

The two sides aim to come to terms in time for the Dubai Air Show, which starts November 12.

Airbus Chief Executive Officer Tom Enders sought to bolster the troubled program at the event, saying the A380 would remain in production for another decade, and that there are other sales prospects to customers in the Middle East and Asia.

"I hope that we will be able to do it" in time for the biennial air show in Emirates' hometown, Sheikh Ahmed told reporters. "It's really about the work between the two teams as we speak today. There are discussions," but contract talks "take ages and are expensive."

Emirates has been flying A380s to Australia since early 2009 and now operates daily superjumbo flights on four of its five Australian services. The airline plans to increase this next year, with a fourth daily A380 service from Sydney and an A380 replacing its Boeing 777 on a Melbourne service.

With Bloomberg

See also: Emirates A380 makes incredible, swerving landing in strong winds

See also: Airline review: Emirates economy class

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