EMIRATES CELEBRATES 100TH A380
As the Dubai carrier prepares for its milestone superjumbo delivery this month, we look back at the double-decker’s operational, passenger and commercial achievements
As the Dubai carrier marks its milestone delivery this month, we visit Toulouse for a special report on Airbus ahead of the Dubai Airshow
No matter how many times you see it, the four-engine A380 is an architectural and aeronautical behemoth, an aircraft which puts the ‘s’ into scale; whether it’s parked imperiously at the gate, pounding down the runway, gliding into land or taxiing past a narrowbody or corporate jet, there is something about its allconquering size which raises a smile. One Emirates A380 Captain succinctly describes it as “a pilot’s aircraft which handles beautifully, it’s a very capable aircraft with oodles of power”.
Emirates has three A380 configurations: the 489seat three-class; 517-seat three-class and 615-seat two-class (the largest in the sky, although Airbus has certified an 848-seat plane). By virtue of longevity, the three-class is the one that most of us associate with the A380 although the cosey business class layout and lounge at the back of the two-class is gaining favour.
The two-classes tend to be newer aircraft and feature sharper screens and fittings than some of the older three-classes, although it’s always a changeable picture as aircraft arrive and retire. Here are some key aspects worth trumpeting as the 100th A380 is scheduled to be delivered from Hamburg on November 3.
The A380 is the world’s largest passenger airliner and renowned for its hub-to-hub operations. They have become commonplace at airports such as London Heathrow and New York JFK – but they’re not solely hub-flying aircraft; the fact you’re just as likely to spot one at Birmingham or Munich is testament to its ability to connect travellers and suppliers in secondary cities globally. Economically, this has been one of its most influential contributions.
Together with its trademark B777-300ERs, Emirates is unique in flying a completely widebody fleet (although we wait to see if this may change once the new partnership with flydubai takes off). It’s not just Asia-to-Europe or Subcontinent-to-States where the 380 excels; ‘bringing the world to Australia and vice versa’ could be another of its core slogans. The country is the third largest A380 destination for EK globally, connecting Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth, and through its partnership with Qantas, Emirates’ passengers can travel to an additional 55 Australian destinations. One shouldn’t forget New Zealand either with A380 services to Auckland and Christchurch, illustrating its truly global reach.
AIRCRAFT ‘AHEAD OF ITS TIME’
Alex McWhirter, Business Traveller’s Consumer Editor, reflects on the impact the A380 has had on global aviation. “Some people think the A380 is a giant aircraft but in reality it’s not the same step up in capacity as against when the B747 replaced the B707/ DC-8. It’s a great aircraft but when it was designed (a process which can take years), nobody could foresee how aviation would have changed. So a good number of airlines would consider the A380 too costly to buy, too expensive to operate and of course there are restrictions as and when it can or cannot use certain airports. One could say it was an aircraft ahead of its time. Even though the A380 has huge passenger appeal most airlines think in terms of pounds, shillings and pence. Clever airlines would see they can offset its higher costs with higher loads and revenue.”
PASSENGERS SEEK OUT A380S
Airbus has a dedicated A380 website, iflya380.com, which enables superjumboloving passengers to seek out operators’ schedules and be redirected to airlines’ sites for bookings.
A mobile app launch is imminent which will further broaden its reach. Sir Tim Clark, President Emirates Airline said: “The A380 has been, and continues to be, hugely popular amongst our customers, many of whom deliberately plan their travel so that they can fly on it.” Airbus reports up to 60 per cent of passengers are willing to make an extra effort to fly on the A380.