The president of the largest airline in the UAE has indicated that the company has no plans of reducing the use of its Airbus A380 fleet. This is despite current global challenges, including the pandemic, rising oil prices, and conflict in Europe.

Speaking at the World Government Summit 2022, Tim Clark told the audience that consumer demand for the aircraft remained high, with the fleet set to evolve over the next decade.

“In the time that we've had them [the A380 aircraft], and prior to the pandemic, they produced about 80 percent of our profits,” he said.

“We've been making profits now, we're very cash positive, [and] things are going really well. We have all these aeroplanes flying, and they are going to be more unique going forward.”

In December 2021, Emirates received delivery of its 123rd – and final new – A380 superjumbo jet. A month earlier, during the 2021 Dubai Airshow in November, the airline had announced a “major retrofit programme” where 52 of its existing A380s would be fitted with Premium Economy cabins and other enhancements.

“The consumer demand for these aeroplanes is astronomical. We're going to refurbish them, refresh them, [and add] more innovation into them,” Clark continued. “They're going to be something really special over the next 10 or 15 years. Watch this space.”

AVIATION CHALLENGES

Twenty-two years ago, Emirates made history by becoming the first airline to announce an order for the A380 at the 2000 Farnborough Air Show.

Known as the world’s largest passenger airliner, the Airbus A380 has reportedly flown to at least 50 destinations with the UAE airline, serving at least 105 million passengers since 2008.

However, travel came to a halt as the COVID-19 pandemic hit the globe.

“[COVID-19 has] probably been the most traumatic thing that's hit the airline business and the global economy since the Second World War, and we're having to deal with that,” Sir Clark said at the Summit. “We're now seeing a resurgence of demand across all our countries on our network, and the segments within those. So, we're actually seeing some very good positive movement across our network.”

According to half-year performance figures for 2021-22 released by Emirates, revenue was up 86 percent to AED 21.7 billion ($5.9 billion), with a loss of AED 5.8 billion ($1.6 billion), compared to a AED 12.6 billion ($3.4 billion) loss for the same period in 2020. In a statement released at the time, Emirates said that revenue recovery was supported by “increasing passenger demand and continuous strong cargo business”.

(Reporting by Rachel McArthur; editing by Seban Scaria seban.scaria@lseg.com)