Emirates’ Airbus A380 service may be back, but U.S. is still excluded

Sep 19, 2020

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Note: This article was updated on September 19, 2020, with new information. It was originally published on June 23, 2020.

The world’s biggest international airline has resumed flying the biggest passenger airplane. Emirates, which carries more passengers between different countries than any other airline, restarted service with the Airbus A380 on July 15, according to a tweet on its official account. The first destination served by the A380 from the Emirates base in Dubai was London’s Heathrow airport and Paris CDG.

The entire Emirates fleet of 115 A380s was previously grounded in response to the drop in demand from the coronavirus pandemic. Still, Emirates president Sir Tim Clark has made optimistic statements on the prospect of returning all of them to service.

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Emirates resumed A380 service to other destinations this summer as well, including Amsterdam, London Gatwick, Manchester and Los Angeles, among others, according to Routes Online.

While New York-JFK was slated to see A380 service in August, the airline has since updated its flight schedule and will only fly 777-300ER and -200LR aircraft to its U.S. destinations. This includes Emirates’ fifth-freedom New York-JFK to Milan (MXP) route previously operated by an A380.

While the return of the Airbus super-jumbo to service via the largest operator in the world is undoubtedly a positive development for aviation, indicating a return of some of the demand lost with the pandemic, the future still looks bleak for the A380 in general. Regardless of what Emirates has done with it this summer, it remains too large an aircraft for most routes’ average year-round demand. Air France has already decided to get rid of all its A380s and Lufthansa will not resume flying it before 2022, if ever.

The onboard experience on the A380, which has been the giant airplane’s calling card since it entered commercial service in 2007, has also been seriously affected by the coronavirus. The showers for first-class passengers, and the bar for first and biz, which used to be the top differentiator of the Emirates onboard experience, are currently suspended and facing an uncertain future. And while first class on the Emirates A380 was an experience worth splurging for in pre-pandemic conditions, these days, flyers won’t get the same over-the-top service and lavish meals. In fact, the first-class suites on some Emirates Boeing 777s are now better than first class on the A380.

Emirates’ home in Dubai reopened to visitors on July 7, although with stringent conditions.

Additional reporting by Andrew Kunesh

Featured photo by Alberto Riva/The Points Guy

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