Today has been a huge day for aviation. We’ve unfortunately seen the A380 program wrapped up. Simultaneously, while scaling back A380 orders, Emirates has reaffirmed its confidence in Airbus. The airline has placed an order for another 90 Airbus aircraft as it seeks to shake up its fleet.
In the past, Emirates has become known as the largest operator of the A380, with only one other aircraft in the fleet, the B777. It was known that Airbus and Emirates were in discussions to change some A380 orders into A350 orders. However, the airline surprised by ordering over twice the amount of A380s cancelled.
Emirates has placed a pretty serious order for new aircraft. In total, 70 new aircraft have been ordered. This is comprised of 40 new A330-900s and 30 A350-900 aircraft. At a list price of US$ 21.4 billion, the decision to purchase the new aircraft won’t have been made lightly. It also marks a huge change in the Emirates fleet strategy.
Currently, Emirates is exclusively operating a long haul fleet of two types. The A380 and the B777. This has seen the A380 being used for incredibly short flights, something which requires a lot of fuel. The new aircraft will allow the carrier to operate an even more diverse network of routes with more aircraft.
It’s clear that Emirates has reached its peak demand for the Airbus A380. The Airline today announced that it had scaled back its A380 orders, which in part led to the closure of the aircraft’s program being announced. The A330s will start to be delivered in 2021, with the A350s following in 2024. It is unlikely that the A380 will be phased out of the Emirates fleet any time soon. An Emirates representative told Simple Flying: “The A380s we receive in 2021 will be flying for another 15-20 years, so it’s not quite the end for a while… We have some units on our books, some on lease or other structures, so retirement age will vary, but we intend to keep flying our A380s for as long as we can.”
Regional Destination Focus
The addition of the A330 will see the airline operating a much smaller widebody than usual. Emirates told Simple Flying, this is to “enable the airline to serve smaller airports and thereby open new routes and connectivity for its global network”. The A350 will work alongside the airline’s long haul fleet, with the aircraft likely to replace some of the older A380s and B777s as they are retired. “Emirates will continue to retire older aircraft in its fleet as it receives deliveries of newer aircraft.”
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