What Emirates would really need as evidence is that the A380 has a tangible validity in the market of the future is at least a sale of another 50 aircraft to another carrier or two
It was an emotional high at Hamburg as Emirates received its 100th A380 on November 3, 2017. The aircraft livery was the talking point as the motif of a smiling former UAE president, the much loved Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, beams at the world from the fore of the fuselage with the legend in gold: Year of Zayed.
2018 is the centenary of the founder of the UAE’s birth and is being celebrated as such. The iconic features and the design on the aircraft have been perfected for the occasion by none other than His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai as a tribute to the leader and his legacy.
While the delivery of the A380 against the concern in the industry over the aircraft’s future certainly was cause for pause especially after Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al-Maktoum, Emirates’ Chairman and Chief Executive reiterated his faith in the A380 as a right choice for the carrier and indicated that the other 42 aircraft on order would be inducted over the next three years. This statement would have sparked much relief in the Airbus heartburn as sales this year have been zero and experts have been predicting the beginning of the end of the ten-year-old aircraft.
It was a rock solid testament when Sheikh Ahmed addressed the media throng and said: “The A380 has been a success. We’ve been able to utilise it at slot-constrained airports, as well as at regional and ‘secondary’ airports where we have grown passenger demand.”
At present Emirates flies to 48 destinations and needs that number to increase exponentially but few new airports are expected to gear for the giant bird which is one of the major restraints on the aircraft’s sales graph.
Over eight million people have flown aboard the carrier’s flagships and the A380 fleet has covered 1.3 billion kilometres and today has 1,500 trained pilots and 23,000 cabin crew who promise the passenger the cutting edge of service in the air.
With Emirates keeping it aloft practically singlehandedly there is odpinion that the A380Plus with its 13 per cent reduction in per passenger costs and an enhanced range will stay a paper promise unless Emirates commits itself to keeping it going but will it is the big question? Unless other top carriers join the fray Emirates may well look at its 150+50 777X commitment as a worthy and adequate replacement for when it phases out the A380.
But all that is largely negative conjecture as much as it is up for grabs whether Airbus has the fiscal chutzpah to invest $2 billion in the reworking of the A380Plus with the costs probably escalating as the 15ft extension of the wing will call for major retooling.
What Emirates would really need as evidence is that the A380 has a tangible validity in the market of the future is at least a sale of another 50 aircraft to another carrier or two.
For now both the Emirates Chief Executive and the Airbus Chief executive Tom Enders have reaffirmed they are reading from the same script but will they sign the same page.