Emirates is known for being the world’s largest operator of Airbus A380s and Boeing 777s but there was a time when its fleet was more diverse. The airline also owned Airbus A330s but those aircraft are no longer flying. What happened to its old Airbus A330 fleet?
The A330 with Emirates
Emirates, at one time, owned a substantial fleet of 29 of the Airbus A330-200 aircraft which it acquired on a consistent year-on-year basis between March 1999 and September 2003. The widebodied aircraft, favoured for its personal cabin space, was used by Emirates mainly to fly routes within the Middle East, India and also Malta, according to Routes Online.
But, in 2015, Emirates announced that it would be drastically updating its fleet by retiring a number of its old aircraft and bringing in new, more efficient models. It said that it would be removing 12 of its A330s from the fleet in 2016, inline with its commitment to cutting CO2 emissions. With more young aircraft in its fleet, Emirates would be able to run cleaner engines.
Since its announcement in 2015, all of the A330 aircraft have retired from the fleet. According to PlaneSpotters, the first aircraft that Emirates retired was bought in November 2000 and registered as A6-EAB. After nearly 11 years service, it was transferred to the Australian airline Virgin Blue in March 2011, who owned it for three years before it was then passed onto Brazilian airline, Azul Linhas Aéreas Brasileiras.
A number of Airbus A330s were retired from Emirates fleet after that, with the final one going on to form part of another airline in 2018. The aircraft registered A6-EAK was delivered to Emirates in February 2002 but was sold on to Irish aircraft leasing company Avolon, in 2017. They, in turn, sold it to Hong Kong Airlines in June last year. The aircraft had been in operation for 14.5 years and, according to Emirates, had flown close to 45 million kilometres over 60,000 hours.
Paving the way for the future
With the cancellation of the A380 programme earlier this year, Emirates has made a change to its fleet once again. It has now got 40 A330-900neos on order, a model which is quite a step up from the original A330.
The A330-900neo offers passengers more space as well as 287 seats – more than the A330 – and more comfort in each class, including 18 inch seats in economy. Many airlines have already received their own A330-900s, including AirAsia and Air Calin.
Emirates has said that its decision to mix up its fleet with the new A330-900neo is to maintain young aircraft. This allows it the flexibility to reach new destinations and broaden its network as well as to operate more efficiently. The A330-900neo aircraft will fly shorter routes, whilst Emirates order of the new A350s will work alongside its existing A380s to fly the longer haul services. The order for A330-900neo aircraft alongside the A350 aircraft came in at USD $21.4 billion; deliveries of the A330neos will start to arrive in 2021.