* Emirates deal set to protect future of A380
* Overall deal worth estimated $16 bln (Adds detail, background)
By Tim Hepher
PARIS, Jan 18 (Reuters) - European planemaker Airbus on Thursday announced an order with Emirates worth $16 billion for Airbus' flagship A380 superjumbo, in a deal which looks set to protect the future of the A380 programme.
It said Emirates has made a commitment for 20 A380s along with an option for 16 more with deliveries to start in 2020, valued at $16 billion at latest list prices.
Airbus shares were up 1.6 percent after the announcement at 91.14 euros, nearing a record high of 91.90 euros reached earlier this month.
Airbus' sales chief John Leahy had said that the future of the A380 lay with Emirates, even though other airlines are interested in smaller numbers of the 544-seat jets. If the deal had fallen through, Airbus would have had "no choice" but to close production, he had said.
"This new order underscores Airbus' commitment to produce 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," Leahy said in a statement on Thursday.
Reporting by Tim Hepher; Writing by Sudip Kar-Gupta; Editing by Richard Lough