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An Emirates A380 lands in London (Photo: AirlineGeeks | William Derrickson)

Emirates President Says Airline Will Revive its Airbus A380 Fleet

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, the fate of the A380, the world’s largest passenger plane ever built, was sealed. Most of the operators of the double-decker giant had already planned the gradual demise of the superjumbo. In February 2019, Airbus also announced it would permanently cease the production of A380 by 2021 due to getting no order from airlines that prefer smaller and economically efficient aircraft.

As the operator of the world’s largest fleet of Airbus A380s with 115 aircraft in its fleet, in addition to eight aircraft pending delivery, Emirates was reported to be drawing up plans to accelerate the process of decommissioning its Airbus A380 superjumbo fleet. Additionally, Air France announced it would immediately retire its Airbus A380 fleet following the impact of the COVID-19 crisis and Lufthansa is also speeding up its superjumbo retirements.

Air travel demand has been hard hit by the crisis and is unlikely to bounce back to pre-pandemic levels quickly. “An immediate rebound from the catastrophic fall in passenger demand appears unlikely,” the IATA chief said.

Under these circumstances, airlines were forced to ground A380 fleet, except those operated by China Southern Airlines, Malaysia Airlines and charter airline Hi Fly.

The Airbus A380 During the Pandemic

Operator Grounded Operating
Air France 9 0
All Nippon Airways 2 0
Asiana Airlines 6 0
British Airways 12 0
China Southern Airlines 1 4
Emirates 115 0
Etihad Airways 10 0
Korean Air 10 0
Lufthansa 14 0
Malaysia Airlines 5 1
Qantas 12 0
Qatar Airways 10 0
Singapore Airlines 19 0
Thai Airways International 6 0
Hi Fly 0 1
Total 231 6

Source: planespotters.net

However, Emirates President Tim Clark denied reports of mass A380 retirements, stating superjumbos would continue to play a significant role in the airline’s future, in a recent interview with the Financial Times.

Clark also stated that they would use all of their aircraft by 2022, when they expect travel demand to return normality.

“At the moment, I’ve got 115 sitting there. We’ve always known that up until that point in time, in 2022, there are going to be a number that will have to go into long-term storage. We’re not getting rid of any of them apart from I think three that are coming out and nine 777s that were scheduled to come out this year,” Clark said.

“The A380 has a place in the Emirates international network on the scale it had before. Albeit not today or fully next year, but the year after I think there will be a place for it and I think it is going to be extremely popular,” he added.

The four-engine superjumbo, offering a comparatively large amount of space, smoother ride and higher pressure in the cabin in addition to many showers, private cabins with beds and bars in the business and first class cabins, quickly became a very popular aircraft among passengers. Clark’s promising expectations on the destiny of the aircraft will surely please the passengers hoping to see the A380 in the skies.

But Clark hasn’t always been so bullish on the future of the A380.

“We know the A380 is over, the 747 is over, but the [Airbus] A350 [XWB] and the [Boeing] 787 [Dreamliner] will always have a place. They may not be ordered soon, they may have orders deferred and pushed back, but eventually, they will come back, and they will be a better fit probably for global demand in the years post the pandemic,” he said.

The airline chief’s contradicting statements have, to say the least, confused the airline community, meaning only time will truly tell whether the company operates all its Airbus A380 fleet again.

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