Emirates hasn’t flown many of its A380s since the pandemic began. With large numbers of A380 pilots already laid off, there was concern that much of the fleet might never return to service. However, in an interview today, president of the airline Sir Tim Clark said that he fully expects all the A380s flying by the first quarter of 2022.
The A380s are coming back
Despite concerns that the opportunities to fly on the Airbus superjumbo are becoming more limited, there’s one airline that always had our backs. Emirates is heavily invested in the A380 and was always going to bring back at least some of its fleet. But questions remained over exactly how many would make a return, and when.
Earlier this month, it became apparent that, of all the pilots who have been laid off from Emirates, the vast majority were A380 pilots. Indeed, the number left at the airline made up around 25% of the total pilot contingent, suggesting that the A380 wouldn’t be returning at any scale, any time soon.
Today, Emirates’ president Tim Clark reassured viewers of Bloomberg News that most of the A380s will be coming back. As predicted, however, the bulk could be missing from the Emirates fleet for as long as 12 months from now. In the interview this morning, Clark said,
“My view, and it’s always an optimistic view, is that by the end of next year calendar or the first quarter of 2022, we’ll have all our A380s flying.”
The Emirates’ president seems buoyed by the news of forthcoming vaccines and believes that the world will see strong demand for travel in the coming months. He alluded to becoming cash positive by the end of 2021, something that IATA analysis suggested was possible yesterday.
The A380 remains the flagship
Although airlines around the world have moved to retire quadjets from their fleets, Tim Clark believes the superjumbo remains a core part of the Emirates product. He said,
“The A380 remains the flagship of Emirates. It is the one that defines our product, it is the one that is recognised by the consumers and people are still trying to get on it from all parts of our networks. It will always be there for us until such time as it finally has to retire.”
Clearly, this is a statement more driven by image than economics. Even now, Emirates is opting to operate the more efficient twinjet Boeing 777 than the gas-guzzling behemoth that is the A380, but clearly, the aircraft holds a special place in Clark’s heart.
There were some worries that, with the Dreamliners and A350s on order for its future fleet, the A380 could be squeezed out as a result. However, Clark stated that these aircraft will be “injected” once the time is right, and not before.
In terms of finances, Emirates has already received a $2 billion bailout from the UAE government. Clark believes that this is enough to see it through, although he didn’t rule out taking another helping hand in the coming months. He commented,
“Do we need to have more input from the government? Possibly, but not that much and we honestly believe that in the second quarter of next year we’ll be cash positive again and growing our business, especially with this vaccine.”
What do you make of Emirates’ plan to be flying the majority of its A380s in a year’s time? Let us know in the comments.