Emirates, the world's biggest operator of Airbus A380s, plans to recycle its first retired double-decker jet in the UAE, which it expects will reduce the environmental impact of dismantling the aircraft and the amount of waste sent to landfill.
The first-generation A380's bar and other cabin features will be turned into furniture, aviation memorabilia and retail items, which will be available for sale in the coming months, the airline said on Monday. A portion of the profits will go to the Emirates Airline Foundation, the airline's charity organisation.
"Through this initiative, our customers and fans can take home a piece of aviation history while saving valuable materials from landfill and contributing to a charitable cause through the Emirates Airline Foundation," said Sir Tim Clark, the airline's president. "It is an elegant and fitting retirement solution for this aircraft and our flagship.”
Typically, jets that are no longer in service are put into long-term storage facilities or disassembled for parts that are taken out to be used in other planes or they get recycled by a third party. Aviation analysts expect the global jet recycling market to grow as the number of aircraft and parts available for tear-down significantly increased during the Covid-19 pandemic.
While Emirates is working on getting some of its A380s back into the skies after the superjumbo fleet was grounded by the Covid-19 pandemic, some of the four-engined aircraft will not be returning to service.
The airline signed a contract with Falcon Aircraft Recycling of he UAE to undertake the project of recycling and upcycling its first retired A380. Its 13-year old superjumbo rolled off the production line in July 2008 from Airbus' Hamburg facility.
"This is our most ambitious project to date, which will see the first deconstruction of an A380 outside Europe," said Andrew Tonks, director of Falcon Aircraft Recycling.
"The recovery programme will be delivered fully within the UAE and ensure that the majority of the aircraft will find a second life."
About 190 tonnes of various metals, plastics, carbon-fibre composites and other materials will be removed from the aircraft and passed on for recycling or repurposing through the company's upcycling programme, he said.
Falcon is working with Wings Craft, another UAE company that specialises in producing custom furniture and merchandise from aircraft materials. Together, the companies will design and manufacture collectibles and retail items from the materials and parts removed from the aircraft.
Founded in 2013, Falcon Aircraft Recycling is a fully accredited aircraft recycling operator in the UAE with deconstruction programmes at Dubai Industrial City and Fujairah International Airport. Its clients also include Abu Dhabi's Etihad Aviation Group.
Emirates’ first A380, previously operating as A6-EDA, was retired after it took 6,319 flights to 62 airports worldwide, starting with its first commercial flight of Dubai-New York JFK on August 1, 2008. Its last commercial flight was Singapore-Dubai on March 8, 2020.
In September, Emirates said it will restore its flagship A380 on more routes and operate the superjumbo on a new destination to Istanbul starting from October 1, as air travel demand continues to recover from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The world's biggest long-haul airline will increase the number of cities it serves with an A380 to 27 by the end of November, it said at the time.