Emirates to phase out A380

Sir Tim Clarke, Emirates CEO, yesterday announced that the airline would cease A380 operations by 2035.

Phasing out the aircraft at the end of leases seems to be the way forward – replacing them with a mix of a more nuanced fleet.

Emirates is already struggling with overcapacity and growth has stalled.

During 2018 its passenger numbers grew by just 0.02%, while capacity from new aircraft grew by a huge 4%.

All that does is force down ticket prices and profitability.

It’s already moving back to a more diversified fleet, having ordered A350 and A330neo from Airbus as part of its A380 cancellation. That type of order will almost certainly be repeated.

There’s also a growing trend towards ultra-long haul. With Qantas due to receive proposals from the manufacturers in August for Project Sunrise. Whichever wins will have a concept that will appeal to one airline or another somewhere, and the winner will have the kudos of real life demonstration.

The return of airlines to Australia from Europe with direct flights is just a few years away. Currently only BA fly from the continent to Sydney, with a stopover. Once that happens it will quickly undermine Emirates (and Etihad and Qatar) transfer hubs to Australasian destinations.

Add to that the growth in narrow body mid haul and the giant A380’s business case starts to die a death.

However there’s plenty of time yet to fly on one. It’s just unusual to hear the end is already being planned.

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