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

Business Traveller (Middle East) - - Contents -

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.


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.”


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.

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