Emirates adds new A380 route amid questions over jet’s future

A cyclist rides alongside the Swan River past the city skyline in Perth, Australia. Carla Gottgens / Bloomberg
A cyclist rides alongside the Swan River past the city skyline in Perth, Australia. Carla Gottgens / Bloomberg

Emirates will fly the Airbus A380 on its Perth route for the first time from May even as uncertainty surrounds the future of the superjumbo that plays a key role in the carrier’s expansion strategy.

“For business and leisure travellers, the Dubai-Perth route is a popular choice and our new Emirates A380 service will be instrumental in helping the airline meet this growing passenger demand,” said Barry Brown, a senior vice president for commercial operations at the airline.

Emirates is the world’s largest superjumbo operator, with 56 in its fleet and a further 84 on order. It has rolled out the aircraft to 10 new destinations in the past 12 months, including Barcelona, London-Gatwick, Zurich, Mumbai, Frankfurt, Dallas, Kuwait, San Francisco, Milan and Houston.

Last week, Tim Clark, the airline’s president, said he had protested to Airbus after its finance director aired the possibility of ending production of the flagship jet owing to a lack of new buyers.

The comments from Airbus reflected an internal debate over the future of the world’s largest airliner but was the first time the company publicly contemplated winding down the project – one of several scenarios in a review first reported by Reuters.

Others include slowing production or investing together with Rolls-Royce in an improved and more efficient engine.

Mr Clark said Emirates would eventually replace all the 140 superjumbos it has ordered with the new version, if it was made.

Mr Clark also said the Airbus stance would not help the second-hand value of A380 aircraft and called on the company to step up its marketing efforts. The A380 was flying “full to the gunwales”, he said, and making good profit if configured correctly.

The aircraft was designed to help airlines cope with airport congestion.

“This is where Airbus needs to be going, to persuade airlines in the long-haul business that this definitely has a place,” he said.

Airbus immediately sought to defuse the row.

“The entire Airbus top management continues to believe strongly in the market prospects of the A380, but any investment by Airbus requires a sound business case, which we will continue to study,” said Rainer Ohler, the head of corporate communications.

business@thenational.ae

* With Reuters

Published: December 16, 2014 04:00 AM

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