Emirates plans will see it having taken delivery of 123 A380’s by the time the last one is delivered by mid 2021. However it has already started withdrawing and breaking up for spares the first of many.
There is no market for used A380’s. Emirates accepts that and is looking at its fleet as a means of extending the life of the rest of the aircraft.
Two aircraft, A6-EEH MSN119 and A6-EEK MSN132 have already been withdrawn and are in the process of being dismantled at Dubai World Centre.
A6-EEH was only delivered in June 2013, A6-EEK was leased from Doric but sold to the airline for a nominal sum for part-out. It’s just six years old.
It’s a truly staggering, almost appalling waste of an aircraft when you consider the environmental cost of building it – and that they have barely passed one D Check.
Emirates aren’t saying why these particular aircraft, as their oldest goes back to 2008, but often it comes down to the cost of interior or exterior refurbishment, or the number of landing cycles – if it’s been used on especially short routes it may even have a shorter airframe life than an older aircraft. It’s more probable that Emirates, which needs new landing gear and equipment for three A380’s – a whole new set costs $25m – finds these have the right type of parts and systems to make them the most valuable overall once broken up, saving it money.
There’s also Emirates over-capacity issues and removing aircraft is a good way of easing that predicament.
Emirates will be retaining 115 aircraft from 2021, reducing to 90 aircraft from around 2025 through to 2030, using the rest to support the in-service fleet. From 2030 the plan is to incrementally reduce the fleet to zero by 2035.
Emirates has also dropped any plans to refit the A380’s with the new First Class, but will deploy the Premium Economy product fleet-wide.
The stark facts are that nobody wants the A380 second hand, there’s a huge market for parts – which are far cheaper than buying new from the manufacturers. Emirates has zero financial interest in the aircraft it scraps as they’re written off in accounting terms – any value they have is entirely as spares, and even then only as money not spent buying new parts. Ironic, as it seems the best way for an A380 to serve the airline once withdrawn, is by reducing expenses on the maintenance of others.
It’s going to be a tough watching so many aircraft still useable and in their prime being broken up. But the harsh realities are that many of the engines have been unreliable, in-service problems extensive and day to day running costs higher than expected.