By Matteo Giardini
Emirates to Receive Last A380s in November As Production Ends
Dubai-based Emirates announced on Wednesday its intention to receive the final three of its Airbus A380s in November of this year, putting an end to Airbus’s 14-year run building the iconic double-decker aircraft.
The three aircraft were originally planned to be delivered to the carrier by June 2022. However the aircraft will now be added to the fleet nearly a year beforehand.
“We’ve come to an agreement with Airbus to bring forward the delivery of our remaining A380 orders and have secured financing for these units,” Emirates President Sir Tim Clark said in a prepared statement. “These new aircraft will also add more highly sought-after Premium Economy seats into our inventory, as we prepare to fully launch this cabin product in the coming months.”
The new A380s will be configured in a four-class cabin, joining a subset of the airline’s A380 fleet in featuring a premium economy offering. Overall, the aircraft will seat 484 passengers with 14 first class, 76 business class, 56 premium economy and 338 economy class seats. The premium economy cabin will be located at the front of the aircraft on the first floor in a 2-4-2 layout.
Including the aircraft yet to be delivered, just six aircraft will feature a premium economy class cabin, as of the time of writing. It is expected that more aircraft will be retrofitted to include the new class cabin, though Emirates has not disclosed further firm plans to make those changes.
Emirates operates the four-class A380s exclusively on routes between Dubai and London’s Heathrow Airbus and from Dubai to Paris Charles De Gaulle Airport. Furthermore, premium economy is currently offered to Emirates frequent flyers and those paying the highest fares.
As the rollout of the vaccine against COVID-19 continues, operations using three-class A380s — those without premium economy a cabin — will be reinstated to destinations from Dubai including Amman, Jordan; Cairo; Dusseldorf, Germany; Frankfurt; Guangzhou, China; London; Los Angeles; Manchester, U.K.; Port Louis, Mauritius; Moscow; Munich; New York City; Paris; Toronto; Vienna; Washington, D.C. and Zurich.
Emirates currently operates the largest fleet of Airbus A380s and is the manufacturer’s most important customer of the type. The total aircraft the airline will operate in November will amount to 118 units, nearly five times more than the next largest operator.
“Emirates will continue to be the largest operator of this spacious and modern aircraft for the next two decades,” Clark said, “and we’re committed to ensuring that the Emirates A380 experience remains a customer favourite with ongoing investments to enhance our product and services.”
Emirates is the only airline with current outstanding orders for the Airbus A380s. Therefore, the move for early deliveries will bring a premature end to the largest passenger aircraft.
The effects of the pandemic and the drop in passenger numbers worldwide have negatively affected the appeal of large aircraft as airline focus shifts toward more fuel-efficient efficient twin-engine aircraft with reduced capacity, including newer variants such as the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, Airbus A350 XWB and even Boeing’s ever-delayed 777X family.
Many airlines such as Malaysian Airlines and HiFly have already dropped A380 operations while other airlines such as Qatar Airways and Qantas have either cut fleet numbers or placed the aircraft into long-term storage. As a result, it is likely the A380’s days are numbered and will likely continue to disappear throughout the 2020s and early 2030s.