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An Emirates A380 taxis in Dubai (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Hisham Qadri)

Emirates Weighs Cancelling A380 Orders as Airbus Continues Production in Full Spate

A spokesperson from Airbus told AirlineGeeks in an email on Thursday that there are five A380 aircraft that are in the assembly phase in Toulouse, including the last double-decker to be built.

“Regarding production, we still have eight aircraft in the production process including the MSN 272 parts of which arrived yesterday night in Toulouse. It is the last one to be assembled. This aircraft will enter into the poste 40 (assembly process) in the first week of July. At the moment, we have five aircraft in production in Toulouse (including MSN 272 – Emirates) and three aircraft in Hamburg. One more is in Toulouse – the 3rd All Nippon Airways (ANA) in orange color. So we still have nine aircraft to deliver (one ANA and eight Emirates),” said the spokesperson.

As of June 2020, the super-jumbos registered as A6-EVL, A6-EVM and A6-EVN have been outfitted at Hamburg Finkenwerder Airport, Germany, and are pending delivery to Emirates but are currently used by Airbus for test flights. The other five double-deckers (registered as  A6-EVO, A6-EVP, A6-EVQ, A6-EVR, A6-EVS) that are planned to be delivered to Emirates are in the final assembly line at the Airbus factory in Toulouse, France.

Japan’s flag carrier All Nippon Airway (ANA) has also one super-jumbo registered as JA383A waiting to be delivered in Toulouse. ANA has deferred the delivery of its last A380 order until the end of 2020 due to an unprecedented slump in demand for air travel. The airline’s third and final super-jumbo was supposed to be delivered in April 2020.

On Thursday, the wings and fuselage of A6-EVS, the final A380 to be built by the manufacturer, were transported to the Airbus factory in Toulouse, where they will be assembled. It represents a milestone for both the aircraft and the manufacturer as the production of the model will end in 2021 14 years after making the first commercial flight. The production of the four-engined airliner has been ended by the manufacturer as it fell from favor after the airlines started to opt for smaller and more cost-effective aircraft.

Boeing 777X Will Be the Flagship Aircraft

According to Bloomberg, Emirates plans to take delivery of the three super-jumbos located in Hamburg in March 2021 while looking to cancel the other five orders due to fleet restructuring plans in the wake of novel coronavirus pandemic.

However, European aerospace corporation rejects cancellation requests on the grounds that the planes are already in the assembly line. Guillaume Faury, the chief executive officer of European aerospace corporation Airbus, warned that failure to comply with order specifications or violation of contract terms regarding aircraft orders might result in a lawsuit against airlines struggling to protect their businesses in the midst of coronavirus crisis.

Emirates took delivery of six new Airbus A380s during the 2019-2020 fiscal year before the ongoing pandemic. As the largest operator of the model, the Dubai-based airline now has 114 super-jumbos in its fleet after retiring one of its aging twin-decker a short time ago. The airline carried 43% of its passengers and served 53 destinations, around 34% of the Emirates network, with its flagship aircraft.

The airline says in its annual report that this aircraft will remain the cornerstone of its fleet mix and product offering well into the 2030s, stating that the high seat factor on the A380 continues to demonstrate the customer preference for this aircraft. Emirates President Tim Clark has recently stated that super-jumbos would continue to play a significant role in the airline’s future.

“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 said.

The airline appears to be committed to the giant plane and plans to operate all A380s in its fleet by 2022. With its brand new double-decker that will be delivered at the end of the 2020-2021 fiscal year, Emirates will also introduce a premium economy cabin. Details regarding this new product have not been announced, yet. The airline also said AirlineGeeks that they will announce the product details for its Boeing 777X at a later time closer to delivery.

Even though the world’s largest long-haul operator plans to operate the four-engine plane until the 2030s, the 777X will be the strongest pillar of its fleet. The airline has an order book with 203 aircraft orders including 30 787-9, 115 777X and 50 A350, it ordered no new super-jumbos.

Bulent Imat
Bulent Imat
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