Emirates A380 Fleet To Stay For Longer Amid 777X Delivery Delays

It seems the Airbus A380 could have secured another lifeline in the Emirates fleet as the airline’s Boeing 777X delivery schedule remains up in the air. During an exclusive conversation with Simple Flying, the airline’s president revealed that he expects the giant of the skies to fly for longer, given the uncertainty of 777X deliveries.

An Emirates Airbus A380 in front of the sunset
Emirates’ Airbus A380s are set to hang around for longer thanks to the 777X’s delay. Photo: Emirates

Recently, most news about the Airbus A380 has been relatively negative, be it Lufthansa sending the fleet to the desert, possibly on a one-way trip, or Etihad questioning whether the type will ever return. However, one man has been far more optimistic about the future of the double-decker giant, Sir Tim Clark.

A benefit to the Boeing 777X delays

The delay to the Boeing 777X delay is largely problematic for airlines around the world. The same is true for Emirates. The UAE mega-airline is planning to use the 777X to replace its A380 fleet. However, now Clark is worried that he may not get his first 777X until 2025, despite the first due last summer.

An A380 on the ground in Dubai
Sir Tim Clark expects Emirates will fly the A380 for the next 15 years. Photo: Dubai Airports

With no idea when he will start taking delivery of the 777X, Sir Tim is left with a problem. He can’t accurately plan the retirement of the giant of the skies. When asked by Simple Flying if the 777X delays would mean the A380 would stick around longer, Clark commented,

“Of course it does… When the 777-9 came along we were able to start growing the capacity and growing the network as well as taking some of the older 380s out as they were obviously coming up to their retirement age. All of that has been shifted to the right, but we actually don’t know by how much at this stage. This is vexing us a little bit in terms of cash management, etc…”

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What’s the delay with the Boeing 777X?

The Boeing 777X has unfortunately seen delay after delay in recent years. As mentioned, the first airframes were due to arrive at airlines as early as last summer. However, due to issues with the giant GE9X engines that power the behemoth, it didn’t first take to the skies until January 2020.

Emirates 777X
Clark revealed the airline’s first Boeing 777X might not appear until 2025. Photo: Boeing

More recent delays to the project have primarily been attributed to stricter certification requirements from civil aviation authorities. Another reason given by the manufacturer was an updated market demand”. Essentially, many airlines are not ready for new jets when they aren’t flying the ones they already have.

The 777X is the latest product in Boeing’s commercial aircraft arsenal. With folding wingtips and other new technology, the aircraft is set to be even more efficient than the current generation of 777s.

About Emirate’s A380 fleet

Clark’s comments are good news for Emirates’ A380 fleet, of which he is a self-professed “huge fan”. Emirates has by far the largest A380 fleet with 123 orders for the giant. Of these, 118 have been delivered, with one being retired.

Airbus A380, Final Plane, First Flight
Emirates is still expecting five more Airbus A380 deliveries. Photo: Getty Images

While many airlines are retiring the A380, a small part of their respective fleets, this is not an option for Emirates, given that the giant makes up over half of its capacity.  As such, the UAE registered giants will be in the skies for 15 more years (five still haven’t been delivered). However, more retirements could be expected in the coming years. The airline’s oldest current jet, A6-EDF, was the seventh off the production line and is already over 15 years old.

Emirates recently launched its new premium economy cabin on its latest A380. Clark has consistently spoken highly of this, telling Simple Flying that the rollout is a high priority for him and his airline.

Are you pleased that the 777X delay means the A380 fleet will be around longer? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!