Two Years Ago 343 A380 Flights Were Operated In A Single Day

On October 9th, 2019, there were 343 flights by the A380 – about 14 flights every hour and one every four minutes across the world. Fourteen airlines deployed the type on 125 routes. Two years later, only three operators use the double-decker, although some will be bringing it back.

Qatar A380
Although not a significant operator of the A380, Qatar Airways deployed it on six routes on the day in question. Photo: Getty Images.

343 A380 flights on October 9th, 2019

Fourteen airlines used the double-decker A380 on this one specific day. Between them, they had 343 movements – always pleasing when it coincides with an aircraft’s IATA code – and a total of 171,000 seats for sale. That’s based on analyzing OAG data. While just a snapshot, it is always good to look back, especially given the vast changes that have taken place since then.

On that day, Emirates had 178 round-trip services, more than the other 13 carriers put together. It had 51.9% of all A380 movements against just 8.7% for Singapore Airlines. Everyone knows Emirates was – and remains – the king of the A380, but to see it so vividly is a stark reminder of how things were. Equally, revolving so significantly around one type means huge exposure.

  1. Emirates: 178 round-trip A380 flights on this day
  2. Singapore Airlines: 30
  3. Lufthansa: 20
  4. Etihad Airways: 16
  5. Qantas: 15
  6. Air France: 14
  7. British Airways: 14
  8. Qatar Airways: 14
  9. Korean Air: 12
  10. Asiana: 10
  11. China Southern: 8
  12. Thai Airways: 8
  13. Malaysia Airlines: 2
  14. All Nippon: 2
Malaysia A380
Malaysia Airlines had just one round-trip this October day: from Kuala Lumpur to Medina for Hajj reasons. It left Malaysia at 15:10 local, arrived at 19:00, left at 22:00, and arrived back at 12:30 the following day.
Photo: Hawkeye UK via Flickr.

The US had the second most A380 flights

The A380 very much revolved around Asia-Pacific and the Middle East. After all, some 11 operators were from one of these regions, while the remainder – British Airways, Lufthansa, and Air France – all served Asia-Pacific with the type.

Despite this, the use of the A380 was, as you might expect, quite different at the country level. While the United Arab Emirates was overwhelmingly number-one, served as it was by Emirates and Etihad and no foreign carrier, the US had the second-highest number of movements that day.

  1. UAE
  2. USA
  3. UK
  4. Germany
  5. Singapore
  6. Australia
  7. China
  8. France
  9. South Korea
  10. Thailand
Etihad A380
Etihad used its double-deckers to Heathrow, CDG, Seoul, JFK, and Sydney on this specific day. The type is now grounded, but who knows for sure whether they’ll fly again. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying.

All 14 A380 operators served the US

The US was so significant because all 14 A380 operators served the country that day. Emirates had the most flights, followed by Air France, Lufthansa, British Airways, and Korean Air.

Emirates had six A380 departures from Dubai: three to New York JFK and once each to Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Washington Dulles. JFK included the Dubai-Milan Malpensa-JFK one-stop service with fifth freedom traffic rights.

While JFK and Los Angeles were inevitably the leading airports, but some 11 airports saw the type. These included Honolulu, with the Hawaii airport welcoming All Nippon’s 520-seat A380s from Tokyo Narita. Because of COVID, the resumption has been pushed back to January 2022.

In November 2021, Milan to JFK is the only scheduled A380 service between Europe and North America. However, there were 15 routes on this October 2019 day. These included Air France’s services from Paris CDG to JFK, Atlanta, Los Angeles, and Washington, and Singapore Airlines from its Changi hub via Frankfurt to JFK.

Korean Air A380
Korean Air and Asiana deployed their A380s to Los Angeles and JFK. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying.

Emirates’ used the A380 to 50 destinations

With 178 round-trip A380 flights, the double-decker had over one-third (35%) of Emirates’ total movements on the examined day. It had far more than the B777-200LR (22 flights) but fewer than the B777-300ER workhorse (340; another coincidental IATA code).

Some 50 destinations saw its quadjets. With six flights each way, Heathrow was – and to this day remains – the number-one destination. Bangkok followed with four each way (one continuing to Hong Kong), while Paris CDG, Hong Kong, JFK, and Gatwick had three apiece. A further 18 had two departures, including Birmingham, Jeddah, Johannesburg, and Mauritius.

With 19 destinations across Europe and 44% of the flights, Emirates’ A380s were very much about Europe. However, probably more interesting was its Dubai to Sao Paulo service. While a long route of 6,597 nautical miles, it was only Emirates’ fifth-longest A380 route that day – after Auckland, Christchurch (via Sydney), Los Angeles, and San Francisco.

Emirates A380
Across all airlines, Dubai had by far the most A380 flights. Heathrow was second, followed by Singapore, CDG, and Frankfurt. Photo: Emirates

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Emirates’ two-class 615 seaters

Emirates has operated the A380 since December 2008, and its current fleet has seven different configurations. Six of these seven layouts have the same number of first seats (14) and business (76) but significant differences in economy. This is based on mission length, varying levels of premium demand generally or at specific times of day, and operational requirements.

The number of economy seats ranges from 338 – on Emirates’ new four-class layout, which trades economy seats for premium economy – to a whopping 557. Of course, the configuration with 557 seats is the two-class 615-seater. This very heavy density is from removing first class and having one-quarter fewer business seats (58) than other configurations.

On this October 2019 day, Emirates used the world’s highest density 380 on two routes: a round-trip to Manchester as EK021/EK022 and from Dubai to Beijing. To China, EK308 left Dubai at 10:50 and arrived at 22:20 local time. The following day, it left China at 07:25 as EK309.

Only two destinations saw Emirates’ 615-seater on October 9th. Photo: Dubai Airports.

Lufthansa used the type from both hubs

With 20 round-trips, Lufthansa had the third-highest number of A380 flights on this 2019 day. This was the time when it used the type from both its Frankfurt and Munich hubs. It had seven routes from Frankfurt (Delhi, Houston, JFK, Miami, San Francisco, Shanghai, Singapore) and three from Munich (Beijing, Hong Kong, Los Angeles).

Lufthansa, Airbus A380, Final Flight
It wasn’t long ago that Lufthansa used the A380 from Munich. Photo: Tom Boon – Simple Flying.

The A380’s departure times from Germany were as follows. As you can tell, the 10:00 to 11:00 period at Frankfurt was –  and remains – Lufthansa’s main departure bank to North America, fed by vast numbers of flights from across Europe, South Asia, the Middle East, and parts of Africa.

Across all aircraft types, this one-hour period had 13 departures to the US/Canada on this day. Four were by the double-decker, three by the A330-300, two each by the A340-300 and B747-8, and one each by the A340-600 and B747-400.

  1. A380 service from Frankfurt to Houston: 10:00 departure from Germany
  2. Frankfurt to San Francisco: 10:20
  3. Frankfurt to Miami: 10:45
  4. Frankfurt to JFK: 11:00
  5. Munich to Los Angeles: 12:05
  6. Frankfurt to Delhi: 13:40
  7. Frankfurt to Shanghai: 17:10
  8. Munich to Beijing: 19:15
  9. Frankfurt to Singapore: 21:55
  10. Munich to Hong Kong: 22:15