Emirates (EK, Dubai Int'l) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Airbus concerning the purchase of twenty A380-800s with options for a further sixteen of the type.

The tentative order follows months of negotiations between the airline and the manufacturer and comes after Airbus admitted that the future of the A380 programme depended solely on a new order by Emirates.

If finalised and fully converted, the deal would bring the total number of A380s ordered by the Dubai-based carrier to 178. The new batch of aircraft is scheduled for delivery commencing in 2020.

According to the ch-aviation fleets module, Emirates currently operates 101 A380-800s and has a further forty-one on order, by far the most of all the type's customers. In total, Airbus has, to date, delivered 220 aircraft of the type. Until the new contract with Emirates is firmed, the total number of ordered A380-800s stands at 317, although not all of these are expected to be taken up.

The second largest customer of the programme, Singapore Airlines, has ordered only twenty-four A380s.