Emirates’ President, Tim Clark, today confirmed that each of the airline’s Airbus A380 aircraft is being flown once a month. The comment comes as Clark last month confirmed that Emirates is planning to keep almost every Airbus A380.
The Airbus A380 is at a turning point in terms of its future role with airlines. Some carriers were already looking to dispose of the giant aircraft before the current crisis. With the industry’s recovery expected to take several years, there is thought to be little use for the A380 in the foreseeable future. However, it looks as though Emirates will be keeping its fleet for some time to come.
Every A380 flying
Clark seems to be committed to the Airbus A380. This is hardly a surprise given that the giant aircraft makes up almost half of his fleet. Indeed, at a webinar hosted by Aviation Week today, Clark commented:
“[The A380s] are on a monthly maintenance schedule which means they are flown every month, so every single one of the aircraft flies. Pilots keep current on recency … with these aircraft.”
Pilots need aircraft to keep flying
As Clark alluded to in his comments, it is essential to keep the aircraft flying for several reasons, even if they’re not going anywhere.
Pilots are required to complete several takeoffs and landings every 90 days to remain current. This is a problem that Asiana Airlines previously found itself faced with. The airline had to fly one of its A380s around Seoul for three days as it failed to secure simulator time.
Maintenance need aircraft to keep flying
As we previously saw, grounding an aircraft is a complicated procedure that includes closing any ingress points and disconnecting batteries. However, the longer you plan to store an airplane, the more needs to be done.
Imagine leaving a car untouched for a year. It wouldn’t start up and drive happily. Perhaps the brakes would be locked, and the battery dead. Now scale this up to an Airbus A380 that is far more complex than a car. By flying its A380s once a month, Emirates will ensure that its aircraft are kept in a position where they’ll be ready to fly once more.
Emirates needs the aircraft to keep flying
However, as much as pilots and the airline’s maintenance team need to aircraft to keep flying, the company as a whole needs the giant of the skies to keep flying so that capacity is available when it needs it.
Take British Airways as an example. The airline has sent most of its Airbus A380 fleet to long-term storage, with one more aircraft expected to follow soon. These count for 4% of the airline’s total fleet, so it won’t necessarily be missed in the short term.
However, this isn’t the case for Emirates. Indeed, The A380 accounts for 45% of the Emirates fleet, meaning the airline would be making a huge sacrifice if it was not able to use the type, especially if demand were to pick up quicker than the airline could reactivate them. Although, given the pace of recovery being seen in China, a rapid return in demand seems unlikely.
Retaining the fleet in the future
About retaining the fleet in the future, Clark commented that no Airbus A380 retirements are currently scheduled as a result of the current situation:
“You know that I’m a great believer in the economics of the 380 At the moment, we plan to retain all the A380s, albeit they’re all sitting on the ground. But in fairness, the engineers there are taking them apart inside, sterilizing them, cleaning them doing whatever they need to do.”
When was the last time that you saw an Airbus A380 flying? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!