Dubai-based Emirates said it will restore its flagship Airbus A380 on more routes and operate the superjumbo on a new destination starting from October as air travel demand continues to recover from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The world's biggest long-haul carrier will increase the number of cities it serves with an A380 to 27 by the end of November, adding 11 more routes to the 16 destinations currently, Emirates said in a statement on Monday.
Over the next six weeks Emirates will resume A380 services to leisure and business destinations including Amsterdam, Barcelona, Dusseldorf, Hamburg, Johannesburg, Madrid, Milan, Riyadh (subject to government approvals), Sao Paulo and Zurich, it said.
It will also use the A380 to serve Istanbul for the first time starting October 1, making it the first-ever A380 operation in Turkey.
Emirates is the world's largest operator of the A380, which it has made the backbone of its fleet, and the airline has been the most important customer of the double-decker aircraft. In response to recovering travel demand, Emirates has increased operations and plans to recruit 3,000 cabin crew and 500 airport services employees to join its Dubai hub over the next six months.
The airline is also increasing the number of passenger flights to the US and gearing up for the six-month Expo world fair event that starts in Dubai next month and is expected to draw millions of visitors.
Emirates currently flies to more than 120 cities, restoring 90 per cent of its pre-pandemic network.
The carrier said plans to restore 70 per cent of its capacity by the end of 2021 are on track with the return to service of more than 50 of its A380 aircraft. The airline’s total fleet of A380s will reach 118 by year-end, it said, as Covid-19 restrictions ease and travel demand rebounds.
Emirates introduced its first A380 aircraft featuring a new premium economy class in December 2020 and will have six aircraft with the new cabin configuration by November this year, it said.
Emirates became the first airline to implement the International Air Transport Association’s travel pass on six continents this month, following successful trials of the Covid health app in April on selected routes from its Dubai hub, as the carrier responds to recovering travel demand.
The airline has signed a contract with Iata to implement the solution across its global network and expects to complete that roll-out by October.