EXCLUSIVE: A380 ‘to be better for Emirates’ after rivals retire superjumbos

Published: 17 November 2020 - 6 a.m.

The world’s largest Airbus A380 operator is likely to get more out of its superjumbos after the pandemic, when most global airlines are expected to permanently retire the aircraft from their fleets.

That is according to Sir Tim Clark, who said that Emirates’ A380s still have a huge role to play in the airline’s business model in the future in spite of COVID-19.

“[A380s] remain hugely popular with the travelling public,” Sir Tim told Aviation Business in an exclusive interview. “And with less of them around now I should think we will do particularly well with this aeroplane when we get them all flying again.”

Emirates grounded its fleet of 115 double-decker aircraft in March following COVID-19 related border closures and has only reintroduced the jet on a select number of popular routes, such as London and Paris.

Global airlines including British Airways, Air France and Qantas have already decided to retire the huge A380 from their fleets, saying that the aircraft is too expensive to run in the wake of the pandemic. They will instead focus on newer, more efficient widebody jets like Boeing 787s and Airbus A350s.

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Emirates too has opted for new A350s, 787s and 777Xs following the discontinuation of Airbus’ superjumbo, but the airline still has eight A380s on order. As one of the only airlines to have crafted a business model capable of operating A380s profitably, Emirates does not have plans to drastically restructure its fleet set-up any time soon.

Sir Tim confirmed that Emirates is proceeding with its delivery schedule with one A380 being delivered in November and one arriving in December.

Sir Tim said he could not see another aircraft in the future impacting on Emirates on the same level as the A380 did.

“The A380 was probably the best thing that could have happened to Emirates and certainly Dubai,” he said.

“We value it enormously, we regret the fact it’s gone out of production, but that is testament to the strength of our business model, where others have tried to use it and failed.

“It’s been enormously successful for us, in many, many ways, directly and indirectly. So we will have to manage eventually the departure of the aeroplane. But we’re a long way off from that.”

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