Vipul Telang/Photo Editor
On Jan. 18, 2018, Emirates Airlines signed a deal with Airbus worth nearly 16 billion dollars to buy 20 more Airbus A380-800 aircraft with an option to purchase an additional 16 more later. This arrangement is incredibly crucial to the sluggish A380 program, which did not sell as many aircraft as expected since the inaugural flight in Oct. 2007. A few weeks ago, Airbus sales chief John Leahy announced that the end of the A380 program was imminent if the manufacturer did not receive any new orders. For now, the cancellation of the super jumbo seems postponed for the time being.
The Airbus A380-800 is the world’s largest passenger airliner, capable of seating more than 500 people in three classes. Passengers enjoy the novelty of the double-decker aircraft, but most airlines decided they would instead purchase cheaper, more fuel-efficient twin-engine aircraft such as Boeing’s 777 or Airbus’s A350 XWB which have lower operating costs and a more extensive range of flight. Due to both the wingspan and weight of the aircraft, only certain airports can welcome the super jumbo with the right accommodations to unload and turn around the aircraft for its next flight.
Emirates Airline is the most significant operator of the Airbus super jumbo in the world. Nearly half of all A380 orders belong to Emirates. Currently, they operate just over one hundred A380 aircraft, with 40 more on a previous order and another 20 on the newest delivery order. “We’ve made no secret of the fact that the A380 has been a success for Emirates. Our customers love it, and we’ve been able to deploy it on different missions across our network,” announced Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, chairman and chief executive of Emirates.
Dubai’s flagship airline has given the A380 revolutionary cabin makeovers, including showers in their first-class cabin and a bar area complete with a small lounge on the upper deck. On their newest A380, Emirates removed first-class for an additional 100 seats in their economy class, bringing the total number of seats to 615. The two-class aircraft currently flies from Dubai to Copenhagen.
“The A380 is crucial for the development of Emirates’ strategy of using Dubai as a central hub, but Emirates is equally important for the continuation of the program,” noted analyst John Strickland. “Airbus should be happy with this deal, but they should also seek more orders with
With the delivery set to begin in 2020 for this deal, only time will tell if this order will save the A380 program or be the last before Airbus decides to push their A350 program instead. For now, it appears that the super jumbo will live to see another few years at the very least.