Emirates expects Airbus to give it a clear idea of the general future of the A380 program before it will consider another order for the aircraft.

“I want to know what Airbus will do with the aircraft,” Emirates Airline President Tim Clark said on the sidelines of the Paris Air Show. Whatever Airbus decides to do with its struggling widebody “will have major residual value and financial implications for us.” While Emirates is interested in principle in ordering more A380s over time, Clark indicated that the changes alone proposed as part of the A380-plus concept will not do the trick. “They need to put the A380s into other airlines,” he said,

Clark’s comments are the clearest indications yet that Emirates is not willing to support the program alone through additional orders, whatever technical improvements Airbus may suggest. Concerns are mounting that Airbus may ditch the program in the not-too-distant future and Clark is certain that other airlines are not going to change their risk-averse attitude toward large aircraft purchases any time soon. “They are not getting the appetite from others,” Clark said.

Emirates is also not fully behind the A380-plus project: Clark does not want to remove the forward staircase from the aircraft, as he regards it as iconic and important for the brand. The removal of the stairs alone would, according to Airbus, free up space for 23 additional seats. Emirates has also voted against an 11-abreast economy section that would allow 20 more seats. Instead, Emirates would be interested in installing winglets as a retrofit on its existing fleet, an option that Airbus currently does not offer.

Emirates has 95 A380s in its fleet, and it is taking five more between now and October. The airline has a total of 142 on firm order, but it does not plan to take any in 2019 and 2020. Clark indicated that any new deal for additional aircraft would have to include the option to upgrade aircraft on order now with some of the A380-plus features.

Emirates pushed Airbus hard to develop the A380neo, which would have included new Rolls-Royce engines developed on the basis of the Trent XWB that currently powers the A350. Clark said Emirates selected the Rolls-Royce Trent 900 in the hope that this would facilitate the launch of the A380neo, while the commercial terms offered by Rolls-Royce and the competing Engine Alliance were very similar.

Separately, Clark said that Emirates will likely add a smaller widebody type to its fleet within the next 5-10 years, either the A350 or the Boeing 787, to reenter thinner medium-haul routes. Emirates canceled an order for 70 A350s in 2014 due to aircraft performance concerns.