Emirates Is Parking an Airplane a Day Because It Doesn’t Have Enough Pilots

May 3, 2018

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

A few weeks ago, we reported how a pilot shortage is forcing Emirates to cut flights. During the Aircraft Interiors Expo in Hamburg, airline group CEO Tim Clark told reporters that the airline would be short-handed by about 100 to 150 pilots.

Emirates has generally tried to downplay the situations, with Sir Tim saying that the airline is “a tad short in pilots” but that the pilot numbers should be “alright by September or October.”

However, unconfirmed reports paint a much bleaker picture: the airline plans to store 46 aircraft, due to a drop in demand as well as a pilot shortage. Emirates operates a fleet of 253 total aircraft, consisting solely of Boeing 777s and Airbus A380s. Storing nearly 20% of the fleet would be a massive reduction in capacity.

While that number, 46 aircraft, is not confirmed, our research shows that Emirates aircraft are starting to fly en masse into storage. Over the last five days, five Emirates aircraft have landed at Dubai’s Al Maktoum International Airport (DWC) — which is primarily a cargo airport at this time — and haven’t left.

Arrival at DWC (local time) Aircraft Type Tail Number Seats
02 May 12:47 PM Boeing 777-300ER A6-ENZ 360
02 May 12:09 PM Airbus A380-800 A6-EDL 517
30 Apr 2:40 PM Airbus A380-800 A6-EEZ 519
29 Apr 12:28 PM Airbus A380-800 A6-EOO 519
27 Apr 1:03 PM Boeing 777-300ER A6-EGZ 360

Source for flight and aircraft location information: FlightRadar24. Source for seating capacity: PlaneSpotters

These five new additions join other Emirates aircraft already on the ground at DWC, which include at least:

Arrival at DWC Aircraft Type Tail Number
1 Apr 2018 Boeing 777-300ER A6-EMT
27 Mar 2018 Boeing 777-300ER A6-EGF
4 Mar 2018 Boeing 777-300ER A6-EBI
1 Mar 2018 Boeing 777-300ER A6-ENU
28 Feb 2018 Boeing 777-300ER A6-EGO
26 Feb 2018 Boeing 777-300ER A6-EBL
26 Feb 2018 Boeing 777-300ER A6-ENT
25 Feb 2018 Boeing 777-300ER A6-EGS
30 Jan 2018 Boeing 777-300ER A6-ECT
16 Jan 2018 Boeing 777-300ER A6-ECP

Source for flight and aircraft location information: FlightRadar24.

There could be a simpler explanation for some of these aircraft being on the ground at DWC. Perhaps Emirates is performing retrofits or maintenance checks on some of these aircraft. However, the sheer number of aircraft currently at DWC seems disproportional to normal operations. TPG contacted Emirates about this situation but has not received a reply at the time of this publishing.

What does this mean for travelers? If you’re flying Emirates soon, prepare for potential schedule changes due to reductions in frequencies. Some destinations that have multiple flights a day could see reductions in the number of flights per day, while once-daily flights could become 4-5x weekly flights. That said, this seems to be coming at a time of light demand for Emirates. So, the reductions in frequency might just increase the loads on flights rather than requiring that passengers be bumped.

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card

Earn 90,000 bonus miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new card in the first three months of card membership. Offer ends 11/10/2021.

With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 90,000 Bonus Miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer expires 11/10/2021.
  • Earn up to 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) with Status Boost® per year. After you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, you can earn 10,000 MQMs two times per year, getting you closer to Medallion® Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion® Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.
  • Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
  • Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
  • Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. *Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
  • Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
  • Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
  • Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • $250 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Regular APR
15.74%-24.74% Variable
Annual Fee
$250
Balance Transfer Fee
N/A
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.