Emirates May Speed Up Airbus A380 Retirements According To Reports

Middle East long-haul giant Emirates could be the next airline to give up on the world’s largest jet. Reports over the weekend suggest that the airline could be planning to downsize its fleet by as much as 40%. This comes as the aviation industry staggers through its worst crisis in history, with travel demand predicted to endure a long and slow recovery.

Emirates A380
The biggest supporter of the giant A380 could be about to pull the plug. Photo: Getty Images

A380 fleet downsizing

In a fresh blow for the world’s biggest passenger jet, the largest operator of the A380 is reported to be contemplating downsizing its fleet. Emirates, the only airline in the world to really embrace the superjumbo, was said by Bloomberg over the weekend to be working on a plan to speed the retirement of some of its A380 fleet amid the global travel downturn.

Although the plan remains unconfirmed at this stage, sources have told Arabian Business that as many as 40% of the fleet may never return to operations. Up to 46 of the airline’s 115-strong fleet of A380s could never fly passengers again. This follows comments from the airline’s CEO Tim Clark earlier this month when he stated that ‘The A380 is over.’

It’s another sad marker of the current crisis facing the aviation industry, which has seen numerous airlines accelerating the retirement of larger, less-efficient aircraft. Just 15 years since its first flight, the A380 has become a victim of its design and is looking increasingly unlikely to be a major part of the worldwide fleet going forward.

Emirates a380 getty images
Emirates operates the largest fleet of A380s. Photo: Getty Images

Arabian Business further reports that the airline is contemplating laying off the majority of its A380 pilots, turning instead to its fleet of Boeing 777s for its future long-haul needs. Emirates currently has 155 of the Boeing widebodies in its fleet, and has ordered up 150 of the forthcoming 777X from the US manufacturer.

30,000 jobs could be cut

As well as addressing the right-sizing of its fleet, Emirates is reportedly contemplating cutting its 105,000 strong workforce by as much as 30%. If this turns out to be accurate, it could mean the loss of 30,000 jobs at the airline. This would be the single biggest redundancy in the industry so far.

Emirates A380 parking
The airline is reported to be looking at staff cuts too. Photo: Emirates

However, Emirates has been quick to assure its workforce that nothing is yet set in stone. While it didn’t deny some job cuts could be made, it was keen to clarify that no decision had yet been reached. An Emirates spokesperson told Simple Flying,

“No announcement has been made regarding mass redundancies at the airline. Any such decision will be communicated in an appropriate fashion. Like any responsible business would do, our executive team has directed all departments to conduct a thorough review of costs and resourcing against business projections, even as we prepare for gradual service resumption. As our Chairman has said, conserving cash, safeguarding our business, and preserving as much of as our skilled workforce as possible, remain our top priorities through this period.”

Emirates hasn’t operated more than a handful of passenger flights since March 25th this year, but with travel restrictions beginning to ease in some nations, it plans to restart a limited number of operations this Thursday, May 21st.

Do you think reducing the size of the A380 fleet would be a good move for Emirates? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.