Emirates Eyes 70% Capacity Recovery By Winter

Emirates is hoping to recover its capacity to 70% of pre-pandemic levels by winter, according to the airline’s chief commercial officer. The airline is currently running its entire Boeing 777 fleet, meaning that further capacity increases will almost certainly mean that more Airbus A380s are brought out of storage in the Dubai desert.

Emirates, Capacity, Winter 21
Emirates is hoping to operate 70% of its pre-COVID capacity by winter 21/22. Photo: Vincenzo Pace – Simple Flying

Airlines from all corners of the world are looking to recover from their worst crisis yet. Some have been dealt relatively good hands. China’s domestic market has seen a full recovery, for instance. Others were forced to ground entire fleets, such as Emirates who is still not able to operate its flagship routes.

Capacity recovery

According to Reuters, Emirates plans to offer about 70% of its pre-COVID-19 capacity by the winter travel season this year. The aviation year is divided into two seasons, summer and winter. We’re currently in the summer 21 season. The winter 21/22 season is due to start on October 31st.

According to Reuters today, the airline’s Chief Commerical Officer, Adnan Kazim, commented,

“We already have a plan to get back to almost 70% of our capacity to be recovered by winter 2021.”

Emirates, Capacity, Winter 21
Emirates had hoped to return to 100% of its pre-pandemic network this summer. Photo: Getty Images.

In August last year, the airline’s Chief Operations Officer, Adel al Redha, commented that the Dubai-based giant would be flying to 100% of its pre-pandemic routes by summer 2021. With confidence, he revealed that this would mean 143 destinations would be served.

The trade-off would be lower frequencies than before the pandemic. According to Reuters, this is not yet the case. The publication revealed that Emirates is currently only serving 120 destinations, accounting for around 85% of its pre-pandemic network.

Flagship route blocked

Most airlines have a flagship route. For British Airways, it is London Heathrow to New York’s JFK Airport. Emirates’ flagship route also involves London Heathrow, with the airline’s top route being that from Dubai International Airport. Before the pandemic, the United Kingdom made up a quarter of the Emirates capacity. Heathrow alone had six daily Airbus A380 flights.

As far as the United Kingdom goes, Emirates is still suffering. The UAE is currently on the UK government’s red list. This means that no direct flights are permitted from the UAE. Emirates has a semi-fix for this, operating empty flights to the UK and returning with passengers. Until the UAE is removed from the red list, a large chunk of its pre-pandemic capacity will be inaccessible.

Emirates, Capacity, Winter 21
Any further capacity increases will likely mean that more Airbus A380s are reactivated. Photo: Vincenzo Pace – Simple Flying

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A further return of the Airbus A380?

While the majority of the world’s Airbus A380 fleet remains grounded, Emirates is bucking the trend with the continued operation of its fleet of A380 aircraft, albeit a much smaller fleet. This summer, the airline is planning to operate the A380 on at least 18 routes.

Emirates has already returned its entire fleet of 151 Boeing 777s to service. This means that any significant growth in its capacity moving forward will likely involve reactivating more of the airline’s Airbus A380 aircraft to cope with the need for more seats.

According to data from RadarBox.com, Emirates was operating at 65% of its pre-COVID schedule last week.

Do you think Emirates will restore 70% capacity by winter? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

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