UAE carrier Emirates expects its entire fleet of Airbus A380s to have returned to the skies by summer 2022. The carrier is by far the largest operator of the Airbus A380, with the airline flying around half of the world’s fleet.
Unfortunately, for some airlines, the Airbus A380 is becoming a dying breed. Indeed, earlier in May, Air France decided to become the first airline to retire its fleet of the type altogether. Meanwhile, Lufthansa has sent half of its fleet off to a Spanish aircraft graveyard.
However, given Emirates’ dependence on the type, it was almost a given that the aircraft wouldn’t entirely disappear from our skies as the result of the current aviation downturn.
Back in the skies before too long
In an interview with the Financial Times, Tim Clark, the President of Emirates, revealed that the airline’s fleet of Airbus A380s would be back in the skies by the summer of 2022. Clark told the Financial Times,
“We’re not getting rid of any [aircraft] apart from I think three [A380s] that are coming out and nine 777s that were scheduled to come out this year.”
Clark added that, while the Airbus A380 may not have a place in Emirates’ fleet right now, he believes that the aircraft will be needed again in two years. One would expect that the three A380s that Clark is talking about leaving the fleet are older ones with major maintenance coming up soon.
Why Emirates can’t retire the A380
The Airbus A380 is a crucial part of the Emirates fleet. Take Air France, for example. As of fleet figures from the Air France-KLM Group on March 31st, the Airbus A380 accounted for just 3% of the French carrier’s fleet. As such, retiring all of the A380s wasn’t the end of the world from a capacity standpoint.
Now consider Emirates. The UAE carrier has 257 widebody passenger aircraft, according to Planespotters. The A380 accounts for 45% of the Emirates fleet, meaning the airline would be making a huge sacrifice if it were to retire all aircraft of the type.
Where is the fleet now?
The Emirates Airbus A380 fleet has largely remained grounded since late March. Emirates is quite fortunate in that Dubai is currently building a vast new Airbus A380 focused airport to its south, known as Dubai World Central (DWC).
While this airport is more well-known as the location of the bi-annual Dubai Airshow, it also has a vast expanse of paved areas that are well suited to widebody storage. When Simple Flying looked a month ago, all 115 of Emirates’ Airbus A380s were grounded. 71 of these were located at Dubai World Central, while the remaining 44 were at Dubai International Airport.
Do you think that Emirates should stand by the Airbus A380? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!