Dubai-based UAE flag carrier Emirates is well known for being by far the world’s largest operator of the Airbus A380. The superjumbo allows the airline to transport vast amounts of passengers between its Dubai hub and destinations worldwide. The aircraft’s importance to the airline is such that it generated 85% of Emirates’ pre-pandemic profits.
A pre-COVID profit machine
Before the ongoing coronavirus pandemic brought the airline industry to an almost complete stop last year, Emirates flew its A380s to all corners of the globe. It specialized in lucrative, higher-demand routes from intercontinental hubs. For example, it was flying as many as six daily rotations with the superjumbo to London Heathrow at its peak.
Emirates is by far the world’s largest A380 operator, with 117 superjumbos in its fleet, according to Planespotters.net. However, it operates an even greater number of Boeing 777s, clocking in at 135 aircraft across two variants. Despite this, the A380 represented the vast majority of the airline’s profits in the pre-pandemic era. Indeed, in an exclusive interview with Simple Flying, Emirates’ President, Sir Tim Clark, revealed that:
“It’s hugely popular. 85% of our profits prior to COVID came from the A380. It was always full. (…) It was popular in all classes.”
Increasing usage this summer
Even with vaccination efforts ramping up worldwide, international travel remains extremely limited. As such, the vast majority of Emirates’ A380s remain parked. Despite this, it is planning to have its entire fleet back in the skies by 2022.
These efforts will commence this summer, with Emirates operating the superjumbo to 18 cities worldwide. Among these are the British destinations of London Heathrow and Manchester. This is an understandable focus given that, in 2019, the UK represented a quarter of its capacity and 56% of its European profits.
More recently, Emirates has already resumed daily A380 flights to several destinations across Asia and the Middle East. These include Amman, Bangkok, and Hong Kong. The airline is also already looking beyond the summer to plan its next superjumbo reintroductions. Indeed, Simple Flying reported last month that Australia and New Zealand might also see the return of the Emirates A380 before the end of the year.
Long-term plans to operate the A380
Despite production of the A380 coming to an end, Emirates remains committed to the aircraft. The impacts of COVID-19 on passenger demand have forced carriers to ground or even retire their superjumbos. However, Clark confirmed to Simple Flying that the A380 “will figure in the Emirates fleet for the next 15 years.”
This figure takes us to the mid-2030s, and represents another decade and a half of operations for the word’s largest passenger airliner at its largest operator. Clark’s plans parallel the sentiment shared by Airbus CEO Guillaume Faury last week regarding the aircraft. Faury also sees the superjumbos as “excellent planes for the future.”
Did you expect that the Airbus A380 would represent such a significant proportion of Emirates’ pre-pandemic profits? Have you ever flown on one of its superjumbos? Let us know your thoughts and experiences in the comments!