Reawakening The A380: Emirates Slowly Puts Its Superjumbos Back Into Service

While the coronavirus pandemic shows no signs of abating in large parts of the world, Emirates has returned the A380 to service on no less than six routes. The carrier is hoping to fill its reawakened superjumbos to London, Amsterdam, Cairo, Paris, Guangzhou, and Toronto by offering a one-of-a-kind COVID-coverage health insurance, valid for 31 days.

Emirates Airbus A380
The world’s largest A380 operator is bringing the superjumbo back into service. Photo: Emirates

Toronto latest addition

Despite travel demand being a long way from recovering, Emirates is slowly ramping its A380 operations back up. The first superjumbo flight after four months of grounding landed at London Heathrow on July 15th. Since then, the carrier has added another five destinations to the double-deckers rotation. The latest addition, beginning on August 16th, will be five times a week to Toronto.

Flight EK 241 will leave Dubai at 09:10 and land in Toronto at 15:05 local time. The return, EK 242, will depart from Toronto at 21:45, landing back in the UAE at 18:30 the following day.

After the twice-daily flights to London mid-July, Emirates has added the iconic quad-jet to its schedule from Dubai to Amsterdam (daily), Cairo (four times a week), Paris (daily), and Guangzhou. The latter will commence from tomorrow, August 8th, and operate once a week.

Emirates says it will continue to gradually expand its deployment in line with market demand, along with operational approvals.

Emirates a380 getty images
Emirates is offering coverage for quarantine and medical expenses to anyone diagnosed with COVID-19 after traveling. Photo: Getty Images

Unique COVID-coverage

The pandemic is obviously far from over. So how is Emirates planning to make the operating of its A380s financially viable? The superjumbo is notoriously difficult to fill under normal circumstances, and more so than ever given the current global health crisis.

To start with, the airline has taken the fight for customer confidence one step further. It is the first carrier in the world to offer free global health coverage for corona-related health expenses. If you are diagnosed with COVID-19 within 31 days from the moment you take your first flight, the airline will cover medical expenses with up to €150,000 (about $177,000). Furthermore, it will reimburse any quarantine costs with up to €100 ($118) for 14 days.

The coverage is valid between July 23rd and October 31st, 2020, applies to all travel classes, and even has a free 24-hour hotline support.

Emirates, Airbus A380, A380 Over
Dubai has once more opened for inbound and transit passengers, but will it be enough to fill the superjumbo?. Photo: Getty Images

Operating 50% of network in August

With this coverage, strict on board measures, and mandatory COVID-tests for any inbound and transiting passengers arriving in Dubai, the carrier hopes to make people feel confident in booking tickets again.

Its optimism is reflected in its August schedule. Emirates is back to operating 50% of its pre-pandemic network, with flights to 70 destinations. In addition, Dubai has once more opened for business and leisure travel.

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Emirates is the world’s largest A380 operator. While other carriers have been retiring the superjumbo early as a result of COVID, the Dubai-based airline has expressed its intention to keep it in the fleet for at least another decade.

Emirates’ Gulf-competitor, Qatar Airways, on the other hand, has stated that it is not commercially viable to operate its A380 fleet at this time. The carrier’s CEO Akbar Al Baker said it would neither meet the airline’s environmental responsibilities nor would it make any commercial sense.

Do you believe Emirates’ choice to redeploy its A380s is justifiable when demand remains at a near all-time low or is it plain crazy? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.