How Are Emirates’ A380s So Profitable?

Since its first commercial flight in 2007, the Airbus A380 has transported almost 250 million passengers. Currently, 14 air carriers, including Air France, Asiana, British Airways, China Southern, Emirates, Etihad, Korean Air, Hi Fly, Lufthansa, Malaysia Airlines, Qantas, Qatar Airways, Singapore Airlines, and Thai Airways, operate the aircraft on over 300 flights per day.

Emirates and the Airbus A380

Let’s look at a few facts about Emirates’ Airbus A380 fleet. First of all, Emirates has the largest Airbus A380 fleet in the world. It currently operates 108 A380 and has 54 more pending delivery. Emirates’ A380s have flown over 1 billion kilometers and transported 105 million passengers since 2008. At 851 km, Dubai (DXB) to Kuwait (KWI) is Emirates shortest A380 flight, while Dubai (DXB) to Auckland (AKL) is its longest at 14,193 km. As a matter of fact, the Dubai to Auckland route is the fourth longest commercial nonstop flight in the world.

Emirates A380. Photo: Emirates.

Airbus A380 and Profitability

We frequently hear that the A380 is not profitable for its operators due to its high operating cost. According to Airbus, however, “[t]he A380 has the lowest cost per seat of any competing wide-body aircraft.”

So, where is the disconnect? And, how are Emirates’ A380s so profitable?

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The operating cost for any given flight is pretty much the same no matter if the aircraft is full, or if there are empty seats. In the airline industry, the cost per available seat mile is a very important measurement. The cost per available seat mile is basically the cost of flying one seat one mile.

It is great to have a low cost per available seat mile; however, an airline must ensure that its flights are near full capacity, or, in other words, have a high load factor to truly take advantage of it.

Some airlines have indicated that the A380 is simply too big for their operations. They do not have enough demand to justify operating an aircraft with this much capacity on their routes. Emirates, however, has been pretty successful in filling up its A380s.

The Emirates Advantage

Emirates’ focus has been on long-haul flights, and it operates the A380 primarily on long-distance high-traffic routes. The airline connects large cities all over the world via its hub in Dubai. Dubai is the perfect place for stopovers on flights from Europe to Australia and North America to Africa and South Asia due to its central location. Accordingly, it is convenient for the passengers to fly on Emirates if they are traveling between these places. Furthermore, Dubai has become a popular tourist destination in recent years contributing to Emirates’ load factors.

Dubai International Airport. Photo: Dubai International Airport.

Additionally, Emirates has been named “Best Airline in the World” and “Airline of the Year” several times. It provides high-quality service and tickets at reasonably low prices making it a great choice for many passengers.

There have been allegations that Emirates is able to keep its operating costs low because it receives fuel subsidies from the Government of Dubai. However, these allegations have never been confirmed, and the airline has denied them vehemently.

Overall, it appears that Emirates’ A380s are profitable because they are a great fit for the airline’s business model of moving large numbers of passengers on its long-haul flights.

Why do you think Emirates’ A380s are profitable?

 

8 comments
  1. Although named best airline of the year, Emirates are particularly racist towards asian people. Treatment to asian passengers (to brown and yellow skin fellows, also based on my own experience of flying EK for about 3 years due to work) are very racist by their haughty european/british flight attendants. It is the invisible kind of racism of not bothering to explain anything about the menu, not bothering giving out extra amenities and not offering the full range of products, where, if you were a british/caucasian white passenger, they would treat you with utmost respect and offer full explanation and availability of menu/wine/beverage choices.

    It is an excellent airline if you’re a white. It’s one of the worst, most racist airline if you’re a non-white person. Please avoid them. I am a respectful yellow asian who flew EK for about 40 flights and have racked up about 600,000 Skywards miles. And this is what is coming from me.

    1. During your many flights have you observed or heard other people of Asian ancestry experiencing the same as yourself? Also, were you and the non-Asian passengers with whom you are comparing all sitting in the same seating class?

  2. Emirates are about to ‘rip off’ their Australian and Thai customers by cancelling their Sydney-Bangkok-Dubai service.
    For the past two years they have been running an A380 on the route – but claim now that it’s not profitable. Why not go back to the B777 that was used previously??
    Qantas is a code share partner and we expect to be pushed onto Qantas who offer a really poor service on the Sydney Bangkok route with old A330’s and very poor cabin service and meals.

    Thai becomes the only real option.

    Qantas will simply raise the prices and we are back to no competition again! Two airline policy again.

    There are many loyal Emirates customers here in Australia – maybe not for long?

  3. I had the same feeling as David, I have heard once a flight attendant asking an older Indian lady who was struggling to place her hand luggage on the overhead bin- “why you carry this if you cannot do it?”. Another occassion I heard two attendants discussing about a Chinese family on a flight to Beijing. In addition, on my own -i once complained about economy class food served -but they were very arrogant. I stopped flying Emirates since mid-2016. I use Swiss or Lufthansa nowadays on the longer haul routes.

  4. Why do think Emirates A380 flying programme is profitable?
    I believe that the airline ( Emirates ) do receive large fuel subsidies from the UAE government.
    Secondly , they are able to offer cheaper tickets , under cut the competitors, because they offer more seats ( yield )as their long haul network is impressive which is either operated by the B777 or the A380 acfts.

  5. Yes indeed, I do fly as well from middle east to asia often when I was working out there. I experience in every flight of Emirates and the other airline from there have really racist flight attendants(westerners). They treat the Asian passengers like they dont exist. Every aspect of their contact to them is just so unjust. I havent experienced it myself but seeing the situation just infront or around makes me feel it. It’s sad because I havent seen these situation 8 years ago. Changes happens but behaviours or character on racism is not at all accepted.

  6. Maybe this is more about Asians being treated differently. As an African, Emirates is the best thing that ever happened to the universe. On a flight from Hyderabad to Dubai, I was just browsing over my kids photos on my pc and an Emirates attendant saw them in passing. Upon arrival in Dubai she asked me about my kid and to my big surprise offered so many toys and teddy bear, courtesy of Emirates. I was flattered. She was from Bulgaria. And I loved Emirates from that point on….. Its such little things that Emirates so unique and successful. Keep it up Emirates!!

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