The world’s biggest operator of the A380, Emirates, has retired five aircraft to date. Although only one has officially left the fleet, a further four will not be brought back into service following the COVID-induced grounding. The airline is still expecting delivery of four brand new superjumbos over the next 12 months.
Emirates has retired five A380s
As part of its annual report released today, Emirates has outlined the shape of its fleet going into the new 2021 financial year. Although only one Airbus A380 has been officially retired from the airline, Emirates said that an additional four would not be brought back into service. In the report, it said,
“The airline took delivery of 3 A380s and simultaneously retired 10 of its older aircraft during the financial year (9 B777-300ER and 1 A380). Further, 4 A380s were taken out of operations as they are currently grounded and not expected to be used before their scheduled retirement dates within the next financial year.”
Going on the age of the aircraft alone, we can see that the four oldest A380s in the fleet are A6-EDF, EDJ, EDA and EDC. The oldest of these is A6-EDF, clocking in at an impressive 15.33 years old, according to data from ch-aviation. The others range from 13 to 14.8 years old, and were likely on the roster to be retired very soon.
It’s interesting that the only A380 formally retired actually clocked in younger than these models. A6-EDB officially left the fleet in February 2020, aged 12.4 years. So, perhaps the age of the airframe is not the only metric by which Emirates determines retirement date.
Emirates has retired a first A380 from its fleet.Emirates A380 (reg. A6-EDB) was seen at Dubai International Airport without Emirates without its livery.The aircraft is only 12 years old, delivered in 2008 @emirates #Airbus #A380 @DXB #emiratesairlines #Dubai #aviation #Aircraft pic.twitter.com/aSwM3Tk54y
— JordanianPrivateJetsServices (@JPJets_Group) June 16, 2020
When EDB retired, it had flown for almost 47,000 hours. On this metric, A6-EDA, EDC, EDD and EDE have the highest in-service time. Each has flown more than 46,000 hours, with EDA having clocked up just short of 50,000 hours.
Simple Flying has reached out to Emirates to clarify which aircraft are leaving the fleet, and will update this article once more information is received.
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Will more leave before they are reactivated?
Emirates has said in the past that the retirement age for the A380 is around 12 years. In addition to the four that have already passed this threshold, 10 more are approaching that age, and will pass it before this time next year.
Notable are A6-EDD, EDE and EDG, all of which are already more than 12 years old. A6-EDH, EDI and EDK will pass 12 years of age in this financial year. As such, we can expect at least three to retire by the end of this financial year, potentially as many as six.
However, even if more do leave the fleet, this is not a contraction, as four more brand new A380s are still scheduled to arrive. A6-EVO is scheduled to be delivered this month, which will add another A380 with Emirates’ new premium economy product onboard.
According to ch-aviation, the remaining three A380s will deliver in 2022; one in January, one in March and the final one in May 2022. These will carry the registrations A6-EVQ, EVR and EVS. A6-EVS will be the last A380 ever to be delivered from Airbus.
As the fleet refresh carries on, the size of the A380 fleet will begin to shrink. However, the loss of the A380s will be bolstered by the arrival of the A350-900s, 787-9s and, eventually, the 777X. Nevertheless, with brand new aircraft being added to the fleet, we can be sure Emirates’ A380s will be with us for many years to come.