As the pandemic rolled out over the globe, the relevance of the Airbus A380 was put into question. However, a rebound in demand and higher yields per seat kilometer make it the perfect aircraft for the current times, says Emirates President Sir Tim Clark. With many carriers bringing back the Giant of the Skies sooner than expected, it seems at least some are inclined to agree.
High premium demand
Airlines are nuts if they don’t bring back the Airbus A380, Emirates’ President Sir Tim Clark told aviation reporter Andreas Spaeth of AirlineRatings in a recent interview. Thus far, the Dubai-based carrier has brought back less than half of its 119 double-decker giant aircraft, operating them on routes to Amman, Amsterdam, Cairo, Frankfurt, Guangzhou, London Heathrow, Los Angeles Mauritius, Moscow, Paris, Sydney, and Toronto, among others.
The, to some extent, unexpectedly quick rebirth of the Giant of the Skies Sir Tim attributes to the solid pent-up demand released as the world begins to emerge on the other side of the travel restrictions of the last year-and-a-half. Furthermore, the rebound of high-end business travel is providing exceptional demands for premium cabins.
“Where we have gone back into markets on a meaningful basis (…) the premium cabins and even the fares people are willing to pay in Economy are solid. Like 30 to 40% higher in terms of what it means to us per seat kilometer,” Sir Tim said.
He further added that other airlines saying they would ground their A380s was ‘music to his ears’, despite the potential short-lived increase in fares and premium demand. The biggest problem, Sir Tim stated, was bringing back staff at the same rate as the airline’s A380 network.
Fleet back in full as soon as spring 2022
While Emirates broke even for the first time since the start of the pandemic last week, daily passenger numbers remain at between one-third and half of what they were pre-COVID. However, the Emirates chief is poised to take advantage of the debt that other airlines have accumulated during the crisis.
Capacity is bound to remain low for another couple of years, at least, as carriers shy away from reopening long-haul routes. Sir Tim expects equilibrium to be restored and commercial aviation operations to be back to normal sometime in 2025 or 2024. However, Emirates plans to restore its network and fleet to its ‘former glory’ much sooner, potentially as early as May 2022.
The uptick in global air travel demand has seen many carriers bring back the A380 earlier than expected. Reluctant A380 operator Qatar Airways will bring back the Giant on key winter routes from December due to the grounding of 19 of the carrier’s Airbus A350 fleet. Qantas is welcoming the A380 back from storage over a month earlier than it had planned. Meanwhile, British Airways celebrated the return of the A380 on a flight from London to Frankfurt just yesterday.
Are you excited to see the A380 make its return? Are you booked to fly on it soon? Leave a comment below and let us know.