Emirates Airline has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to buy up to 36 additional A380 aircraft.

The deal was signed Emirates Airline and Group chairman and chief executive Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum and Airbus Commercial Aircraft customers chief operating officer John Leahy.

The $16bn deal has been signed for 20 A380s and an option for 16 more aircraft. Deliveries are expected to start in 2020.

Sheikh Ahmed said: “We’ve made no secret of the fact that the A380 has been a success for Emirates. Our customers love it, and we’ve been able to deploy it on different missions across our network, giving us flexibility in terms of range and passenger mix.

“This new order underscores Airbus’ commitment to producing the A380 at least for another ten years.”

“Some of the new A380s we’ve just ordered will be used as fleet replacements. This order will provide stability to the A380 production line. We will continue to work closely with Airbus to further enhance the aircraft and onboard product, so as to offer our passengers the best possible experience. The beauty of this aircraft is that the technology and real estate on board give us plenty of room to do something different with the interiors.”

Leahy said: “This aircraft has contributed enormously to Emirates’ growth and success since 2008 and we are delighted that it will continue to do so. This new order underscores Airbus’ commitment to producing the A380 at least for another ten years. I’m personally convinced more orders will follow Emirates’ example and that this great aircraft will be built well into the 2030s.”

After receiving the delivery of its first A380 in July 2008, Emirates took its 100th A380 in November 2017 in Hamburg, Germany.

The A380 flies 8,200nmi (15,200km) continuously and can accommodate 575 passengers in four classes.

The A380 is the world’s largest passenger aircraft, with two full widebody decks. More than 200 million passengers have so far flown on A380 aircraft. A total of 222 A380s have been delivered to 13 airlines to date.