Emirates says Airbus A380s could still be in the skies in 20 years

Despite the manufacturer discontinuing production, the Dubai airline believes increasing passenger demand isn't going to ground services just yet

Emirates has 116 superjumbos in its fleet and is currently upgrading 67. Photo: Emirates
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This year, Emirates celebrated 15 years since it took delivery of its first Airbus A380.

It happened in July 2008, when an aircraft with the registration A6-EDA arrived from Hamburg. It then took its inaugural flight for the carrier on August 1, flying between Dubai and New York.

That specific jet is no longer in operation, but about 90 are in service, with a total of 116 in Emirates' fleet.

Passenger capacity on the jets ranges from 484 to 615 with room for up to 24 crew. They fly to 50 destinations globally.

No A380s operated during the pandemic for the airline. However, despite Airbus announcing it has ceased production of the model, they are enjoying a recent resurgence. The last A380 was delivered to Emirates in December 2021.

Emirates isn't the only airline that favours this model. Etihad Airways reintroduced its superjumbo fleet this summer and Qatar Airways also flies the aircraft in the region. International carriers such as British Airways and Singapore Airlines also have them.

“It's an iconic aircraft. Customers absolutely love it. They go out of their way to fly on it," Richard Jewsbury, an Emirates executive, told industry publication Simple Flying this week. "People enjoy the experience, but also enjoy seeing it in the sky as well. It's just wonderful to see it fly and prosper."

From the perspective of the UK market, it's an important aircraft, he said, with about 120,000 passengers a week travelling with Emirates in and out of the UK – 80 per cent of those on A380s.

There are no plans to discontinue this aircraft from the company's portfolio any time soon. "We took delivery of our last A380 in December 2021," Jewsbury added. "That's just around 18 months old. So, the more recently delivered aircraft are going to be around for a while.

"It's going to be the late 2030s, maybe early 2040s, before we wave goodbye to the last A380. They're going to be here for the foreseeable future.”

The airline is also in the process of upgrading 67 A380s, along with 53 Boeing 777s, as part of a multi-billion-dollar plan to introduce premium economy class, new seats, finishes and flooring, with work set to finish in 2025.

The A380 is the largest passenger aircraft in history and its floor space spans about 550 square metres over its two decks.

The first test flight took place in 2005 and the aircraft entered service with Singapore Airlines in October 2007. The model has flown more than 800,000 flights and carried more than 300 million passengers since, according to Airbus.

Updated: September 05, 2023, 1:14 PM