Emirates Airline’s fleet of Airbus A380s is sure to get bigger, but its next order for the Super Jumbo could be for an upgraded version of the aircraft should Airbus proceed with the development of the re-engined A380neo project to follow its A320neo and A330neo programmes.
Speaking on the sidelines of the World Route Development Forum Strategy Summit in Chicago, Sir Tim Clark, president, Emirates Airline suggested the European manufacturer could be in a position to make a final decision over the A380neo within a six month timeframe and that could easily meet with Emirates’ ambitions to grow its fleet.
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is by far the largest operator of the aircraft with more than 50 already in service and 90 more on order. Clark describes the aircraft as an “astounding success story,” offering the carrier “wonderful seat mile economics” with the airliner. “We are shocked if the seat factor on the A380 is below 85 per cent,” he told delegates during an interview with BBC World News presenter, Aaron Heslehurst as part of the formal Strategy Summit programme at World Routes.
“I keep telling other airlines that the A380 is a wonderful aircraft, but they say to me that they wouldn’t be able to fill it,” explained Clark. “I guess it goes to prove it’s not what you’ve got it’s what you do with it.”
The executive, who was knighted in the latest Queen’s New Year Honours list for services to aviation, said the carrier would consider adding between 60 and 70 more A380s to its fleet but Airbus would need to move forward with the A380neo quickly.
“We are looking at a derivative of the A380 to take the aircraft into the next generation but this is a business case that is not stacking up in Toulouse. We would look at 60 to 70 aircraft if they build the right aircraft but we need to persuade Airbus to take this route.”
Emirates has been a relative new arrival to the Chicago market, launching flights last month into a market already served by its rivals Etihad Airways and Qatar Airways. The August 2014 launch now brings the carrier’s US network to nine destinations – three points in the east, three central and three in the west. “I have to be honest, there’s more to come," Clark confirmed although he wouldn’t be drawn where the airline would fly. “They will be in east, central and in the west, supporting the existing strategy,” he joked.
Clark confirmed that Emirates will certainly grow production into US both through new routes and frequency and capacity growth in existing markets, a destination country he described as “the powerhouse on the planet”.
“The US currently gives us about seven per cent of route revenue. It’s not the number one market as the UK and Australia give around nine per cent but the US is certainly growing. It will rise but will likely remain around the nine or ten per cent level as our global scale also increases”.
ETN is a media partner with Routes. Routes is a member of the International Coalition of Tourism Partners (ICTP) .
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