Emirates president Tim Clark says the airline will keep flying all its A380s

May 24, 2020

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The largest operator of the Airbus A380 will not be making cuts to its fleet of the world’s biggest passenger jet after all, and in fact expects to fly all of its airplanes again by the summer of 2022. That’s according to the president of Emirates, Sir Tim Clark, who told the Financial Times that “we’re not getting rid of any of them” except for three, which were scheduled to be retied anyway. That would leave Emirates with 112 of the double-decker jets, and runs contrary to earlier reports that the airline might retire 46 of them to cope with reduced demand.

Emirates grounded temporarily all of its A380s as the coronavirus pandemic erased most demand for international flights, which is the only kind of flying Emirates does. The A380, Sir Tim told the FT, still has a “place in the Emirates international network on the scale it has before.”

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The Dubai-based airline is able to use its hub’s position at the geographic center of the world to make the A380’s massive seat capacity work. The A380 is in fact, according to what Clark once told TPG in Dubai, the only airplane that could have enabled Emirates to launch its business model based on moving vast numbers of people on connecting flights. Clearly, the head of the world’s number one airline by international passengers carried is confident that model can still work, once the pandemic has passed.

“I think there will be a place for it and I think it is going to be extremely popular,” he said of the A380.

Related: 10 fun facts about the Airbus A380

That position stands in contrast to other airlines’, which have ditched some or all of their A380s in the face of dropping demand. Lufthansa is getting rid of half its 380s, and Air France has retired them all effective immediately. Sir Tim has an opinion, albeit expressed before the pandemic crisis, on why the A380 never worked for carriers that ordered a small number.

Emirates has restarted some flights after suspending all of them in March due to the virus, but all of those are being flown with the Boeing 777, the only other airplane model in its fleet. All of its A380s remain, for now, grounded.

At the time of this writing there was only one A380 airborne in the world, a British Airways jet headed back to London Heathrow from Manila, where it had been since March undergoing scheduled maintenance according to The BA Source. Incidentally, that’s the same A380 one of our readers spotted last year at the Oakland airport, an extremely unusual appearance due to a strike by British Airways pilots.

Screenshot from Flightradar24

Featured image by Alberto Riva/The Points Guy

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