LONDON—Emirates has placed the largest order ever for Rolls-Royce engines following its decision to engine its next batch of 50 Airbus A380s with the Trent 900.

The $9.26 billion order, announced in London on April 17, reverses Emirates’ trend to power its A380s with the Engine Alliance GP7000 engine and potentially steers the airline toward a reengined A380neo that Airbus President Tim Clark says the manufacturer is still deliberating. 

The first Trent 900-powered Emirates A380 will join the fleet in late 2016, with Emirates planning to induct the first 25 aircraft of the 50-aircraft order up to the first quarter of 2018. Clark hopes that the second batch of 25 aircraft could be inducted in 2019-20. 

Clark said the decision to go with the Rolls-Royce engine had been driven by the manufacturer’s willingness to improve reliability and inject technology from the Trent XWB engines developed for use on the Airbus A350.

Clark said, however, that the Engine Alliance—a joint venture of U.S. engine companies General Electric and Pratt & Whitney—had been “disingenuous” about their willingness to advance the GP7000 engine.

“I don’t think the commitment was there in the other competitor [Engine Alliance] to develop an improved engine, it’s a good engine, but the Rolls-Royce was arguably a better one,” Clark told reporters.

For Rolls-Royce, the order is the largest non-governmental deal in the company’s history, as well as being one of the largest non-defense export orders for a U.K.-based company. The order should somewhat help reverse the company’s fortunes after a 2014 blighted by profit warnings. The order also includes a long-term TotalCare engine support and maintenance package.

But while the order secures Rolls-Royce jobs in the U.K., as well as the engine manufacturer’s international supply chain, Rolls-Royce says it won’t affect the company’s ongoing manpower reductions.

Clark suggested that if the A380neo was launched, NEO aircraft could form part of the 50-aircraft order, but any reengined A380 would have to deliver at least a 10% performance improvement.  

“With a combination of reliability, weight reductions and improvements in aerodynamics, I would hope for an improvement of 10-13% in fuel economy,” Clark told journalists. “If we see those improvements, that will be stellar.”

Emirates currently has 60 A380s currently in operation, with a further 80 on order. Since the type’s introduction with Emirates in 2008, A380s have flown 36 million passengers. The company also claims that its purchase of the aircraft has had a positive impact on the U.K. and European economies, with 7,000 jobs sustained in the U.K. as a result of the Emirates orders and $630 million added to the British economy, a Frontier Economics report said. 

Clark said there was no plan for offloading the Engine Alliance-powered aircraft in the near future, pointing out that even the oldest A380 in the Emirates fleet was only eight-years-old, compared with aircraft flying in the United States, which can be 35-years-old.  

But he expressed confidence that the company would find buyers for its second-hand A380s, particularly if airports in Europe don’t increase runway capacity, which may then prompt airlines to purchase larger aircraft in order to accommodate passenger growth.

Clark also suggested further aircraft orders may be on the horizon, stating that the company was now well into its assessment of the Airbus A350 and Boeing 787-9 and -10 models. The assessment follows the order cancellation by Emirates for 70 A350s last June, as the A350 could not be properly assessed until it was in operational service, as it is now.