Gulf carrier Emirates agreed to buy 20 Airbus SE A380 superjumbos worth $9 billion at list prices, sealing a vital order for a program that the manufacturer said this week could be terminated following a sales drought.

Dubai-based Emirates signed a memorandum of understanding for the planes and also has options to buy 16 more, the carrier said Thursday in a statement. The aircraft will be delivered from 2020, with engine options still under evaluation.

Already by far the biggest A380 customer, Emirates had repeatedly stalled on the follow-on deal, putting the future of the double-decker in doubt after it failed to win any new orders for two years. If the airline takes all of the planes the purchase will safeguard production through 2029, an Airbus spokesman said.

Airbus shares rose as much as 2.4 percent and traded 1.8 percent higher as of 11:19 a.m. in Paris.


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Photo Credit: An Emirates A380. The airline has placed a new order for 20 aircraft. Bloomberg