By Benjamin Pham
Emirates To Add A380 On Operations To Istanbul
The summer — normally when passenger travel demand is at its peak — is gradually coming to an end, but this past summer was like no other as there was a significant surge in leisure travel demand compared to the year prior. Fall is right around the corner, and the holiday season at the end of the year is another period when travel demand is high — especially compared to past slumps resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic — and passengers are eager to continue traveling for the festivities. However, this fall will be significant for Emirates as the carrier will reach a special milestone for its fleet and route network as certain international borders reopen and travel restrictions are eased.
The carrier plans to start operations to Istanbul using its Airbus A380 on Oct. 1. Previously, the airline has only used smaller aircraft on the route. Flights on the superjumbo, one of the powerhouses in the airline’s long-haul international fleet, will operate in the morning as part of the carrier’s schedule featuring 17 weekly flights between the cities.
“We are excited to finally bring our flagship to Istanbul to join many other top cities we currently serve with the A380. Since Emirates started operating to Turkey 34 years ago, we have carried six million customers on more than 23,000 flights,” Adnan Kazim, Emirates Chief Commercial Officer, said in a statement. “Bringing the A380 service to Turkey is a major milestone for Emirates and we would like to thank all our partners and stakeholders for their support in making this a reality.”
Istanbul’s new airport officially opened in late 2018, and the complete transfer of commercial airlines from the old airport to the newly built airport finished in spring 2019. After the transition period, the airport is now the city’s hub for passenger airlines commercial flights including Emirates, while the former airport is currently solely used for international cargo flights.
“Since we moved to our new home at Istanbul Airport on April 6, 2019, Emirates’ A380 entry is another milestone for us. I am proud that the world’s largest A380 operator, Emirates, will operate the Dubai-Istanbul route with their flagship, making it the first-ever A380 operation at Istanbul Airport and Turkey,” Majid Khan, Vice President of Aviation Development for iGA Istanbul Airport, said in a statement. “This increase will help to boost traffic between our two nations. In the post-Covid-19 era, through Emirates’ extensive network, it will bring more inbound tourism to Istanbul and Turkey from currently unserved or underserved destinations.”
As Emirates continues to operate and hold on to its extensive route network with the current dilemma, the carrier will keep its A380s in service and has recently announced service on other long-haul routes such as its flight operations to and from South Africa. The introduction of the A380 on one of two daily flights to Johannesburg is scheduled to be on Oct. 31, which will become double on Jan. 1. The carrier also plans to increase frequencies to Cape Town and Durban.
Several other international carriers such as Air France, Lufthansa, British Airways, Singapore Airlines, Etihad, Korean Air and Qantas, among many others, have questioned the use of using the A380 as part of their long-haul fleets. In addition, due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the drastic drop of demand that it caused, many were forced to move the aircraft in their fleet to storage, and the aircraft has been out of service on many routes. Additionally, Airbus announced the end of the program in 2019 and constructed its last A380 in spring 2021.
Clearly, Emirates is one of the last carriers to continue using the superjumbo jet as part of its fleet. The airline’s decision to operate the aircraft and observe the upcoming special milestone will play a significant role in sustaining the operations of the iconic aircraft. While the rest of the industry will potentially shift in favor of twin-engine aircraft, Emirates will firmly hold on to its over 100 A380 aircraft in the post-pandemic world.