**Update: 18/11/19 @ 09:29 UTC – Emirates has just ordered a further 20 Airbus A350 aircraft at the Dubai Air Show. Their order now totals 50 of the type. Deliveries are due to start in 2023. Read the order story here **
Earlier this year, Emirates announced that it had ordered 30 Airbus A350s as part of a huge fleet shakeup. As the UAE airline prepares to operate these widebody aircraft from 2023, let’s take a look at how they will be used.
The Dubai-based carrier ordered the A350-900, which is the first of the type to be designed. This can seat around 325 passengers and has a range of 8,100 nmi (15,000 km). Airbus designed this plane to compete with the Boeing 777 and 787. Incidentally, according to its website, Emirates currently holds 155 units of the 777. Therefore, some routes operating these aircraft could see a change in deployment.
Emirates uses its 777s to serve 100 cities on six continents, flying millions of passengers a year. The longest of these flights is a 12,940 km flight between Dubai and Dallas/Fort Worth. With the 777 having the biggest share Emirates fleet and serving such important routes, it’s unlikely that they will be significantly dropped. However, it is likely that the A350 will be substituted in on some routes.
Furthermore, these A350s will be useful to serve new destinations as part of Emirates’ expansion plans. Last week, the airline confirmed that it had secured permission to operate its Dubai to Mexico City route. Plans for this service were previously blocked by Mexican authorities the project was finally given the all-clear. There is 14,323 km between the two airports, making it the perfect distance for Emirates to serve with an A350.
Furthermore, the carrier is pushing for rapid expansion into Africa. As part of its development, it added flights to its Dubai-Casablanca route from June. There were also four more flights added per week to Accra, Ghana from Dubai. Along with this, three more flights were added to its service from Dubai to Abuja, Nigeria. Additionally, Conakry, Guinea and Dakar, Senegal had another linked flight added.
With Emirates continuing to add more scheduled flights to its existing routes, it needs more planes to match the expansion. The A350s will be the perfect aircraft to fulfill this demand in Africa. Along with this, some Australian services have been sacrificed while Emirates develops its Africa plans. Therefore, the A350s will be able to fill the gap left.
Along with the A350s, Emirates is also expecting a delivery of 40 A330neos. These are due to be delivered in 2021. When announcing the deal for these Airbus planes, Emirates confirmed that it won’t be phasing out its A380 fleet, which it expects to be in operation for another 15-20 years. So, the upcoming aircraft will be used to support its existing fleet on operations across the continents.
Nonetheless, Emirates has shared that it will continue to retire older aircraft in its fleet as it receives newer airliners. Moreover, by having new versatile aircraft joining its fleet, Emirates will be in a prime position to review its fleet once the next decade is in full swing.
The A350 was first introduced in January 2015 with Qatar Airways. The Middle Eastern airline is also the biggest operator of the aircraft with 48 units in its fleet. One of the key routes operated with this aircraft is the airline’s London-Doha service. With the United Kingdom making up a quarter of Emirates’ capacity, the jet could be well placed on services to the country.
Even though Emirates announced the order in February, we are yet to hear further confirmation since. We have reached out to Emirates for comment.
How do you think these A350s will be deployed? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section.