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At a Hamburg Airport press conference during the 2018 Aircraft Interiors Expo, Emirates CEO Tim Clark discussed upcoming Airbus A380 fleet plans. These plans include committing to the airline’s A380 options and a “transformation” of the cabin on its newest A380s. While these plans include adding new, enclosed first class suites to the superjumbo, unfortunately that won’t happen until at least 2021.
Exercising A380 Options: It looks like the plagued A380 program will soon get yet another lifeline from Emirates. At the press conference, Clark announced that “sooner rather than later” the airline would commit to its options to buy 16 more A380 aircraft. These options are from the noteworthy order of 20 aircraft this January that was hailed as saving the A380 program for a few more years.
At Airbus’ greatly reduced production level of just six A380s per year, exercising these options would extend production almost three more years. In that time, Airbus is hoping for additional airlines to turn to the superjumbo due to airport and air traffic congestion.
A380 Cabin Transformation: Starting with the delivery of its newest order of A380 aircraft in 2020, Clark unveiled that there would be a “transformation of the cabin” — including updated lighting, bathrooms and shower suites.
However, the Mercedes-Benz-inspired first class suites now installed on some of the airline’s 777-300ERs won’t be installed on the new A380s until 2021. This delay is due, in part, to the difficulty of installing the new suites and the “extensive certification efforts” that are required to allow the suite to fly on the A380.
Due to these difficulties, Emirates isn’t sure yet if the airline will retrofit any of its existing A380s with the new suites and changes to the cabin. If the airline decides to retrofit existing A380s, Clark estimates it’d cost at least $30 million per aircraft — in addition to the aircraft’s lost service time.
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