DUBAI, United Arab Emirates - Long-haul carrier Emirates purchased 40 American-made Boeing 787-10 Dreamliners on Sunday at the start of the biennial Dubai Air Show, a $15.1 billion deal certain to please U.S. President Donald Trump who has touted the plane's sales as a job creator in America.
The deal appeared to surprise Boeing's archrival Airbus, whose staff had attended a long-delayed news conference and left the room just moments before the announcement.
Airbus has pinned hopes of continuing production of its double-decker jumbo jet on Emirates, the world's largest operator of the aircraft which took delivery of its 100th A380 earlier this month. Reports circulated before the air show that a major A380 sale would be coming.
But instead, Emirates CEO and Chairman Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum explained how the airline considered the Airbus A350 and decided to pick the Boeing 787-10.
"We were comparing the two apples," he said, but found that the Boeing 787 is "the best option" for Emirates "given its maintenance and so on."
It's the second time Airbus has lost out on selling the A350 to Emirates. In June 2014, the state-owned Emirates cancelled an order for 70 A350s after a "fleet requirement" review.
The Boeing 787-10 typically lists for $312.8 million. Delivery will begin in 2022.
Sheikh Ahmed made a point to say the deal will help create more jobs, echoing Trump's mantra. The deal was signed in the presence of Dubai's ruler, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, who also serves as the United Arab Emirates' prime minister and vice president.
Emirates' business has suffered under Trump's travel bans affecting predominantly Muslim nations, as well as the recent ban on laptops in airplane cabins. Emirates said it slashed 20 percent of its flights to the U.S. in the wake of the restrictions, though Dubai International Airport remains the world's busiest international travel hub.
Emirates now relies solely on the Airbus 380 and the Boeing 777 for its flights, making it the largest operator of both. It now has 165 Boeing 777s in its fleet today.