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December 10, 2023
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The A380 has recently been described as having a limited future. After the Farnborough show, Airbus cut back production.  Then came news that Qantas will not take another eight it has on order.   All bad news for the program one might think.

Meanwhile, the most successful A380 operator keeps growing its reach using the aircraft.  On August 8th, Emirates announced new A380 service to Manchester in the UK from January 2017.  That is in addition to two A380s per day between Dubai and Manchester already in operation!  Emirates says it will break the million passenger mark on this route during this financial year. So much for the argument that the A380 can only be used between hubs on long, thick routes.


Then on August 9th, Emirates announced it was swapping its two class 777-300ER on the Dubai-Guangzhou market for a three class A380.   This new market will join 40 other routes Emirates flies its A380s.

These new services follow other news on Emirates’ A380 fleet. In July Emirates said it was upgrading one of its four daily flights between Dubai and Johannesburg to the A380. This is the busiest route on Emirates’ Africa network with more than three million passengers carried in the past five years.  Emirates also offers three daily flights between Dubai and Cape Town and a daily flight between Dubai and Durban.  As these routes grow the A380 will surely follow.

Also in July, Emirates said it was adding a second A380 between Dubai and Milan daily.  Once again the A380 will replace a 777-300ER serving the market now.  Emirates notes that “In 2015, the airline transported 22,000 tonnes of cargo from Milan including cars, marble, food products like cheese and olive oil, pharmaceuticals, clothing and shoes bound for the UAE, India, Hong Kong, USA, Australia and Mexico.”  The airline’s relationship with the city is significant enough that it also sponsors AC Milan.

The A380 may have a limited future among some airlines.  But Emirates seems to know exactly how to deploy the aircraft.

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Co-Founder AirInsight. My previous life includes stints at Shell South Africa, CIC Research, and PA Consulting. Got bitten by the aviation bug and ended up an Avgeek. Then the data bug got me, making me a curious Avgeek seeking data-driven logic. Also, I appreciate conversations with smart people from whom I learn so much. Summary: I am very fortunate to work with and converse with great people.

8 thoughts on “Emirates continues to expand A380 markets

  1. As other carriers are pursuing a strategy of “capacity discipline”, Emirates is very astutely seizing the opportunity and capturing the growth in international air travel. In the year 2015, international traffic grew by 6.7% (RPK, year-on-year), and Emirates grew by 8.8% (RPK, year-on-year), so Emirates is growing faster than the industry in general and thus expanding its market share.

    In my opinion, the brilliance of the Emirates business model is that it is a hub-and-spoke network that doesn’t operate a separate feeder network. The widebody hub-and-spoke network is effectively feeding itself, and growth in any given service will in addition feed the other services in its network.

  2. I haven’t seen a good analysis of why Emirates can be so successful with an aircraft that no other carrier seems to be able to use in large numbers, if at all. Even Emirates’ Gulf competitors, which share the same geography and ambitious growth plans, haven’t used the A380 like Emirates. One would think that other carriers would try to emulate Emirates’ model for success, but so far no other airline has. Why is that?

  3. What is really strange is that no North American carriers have ‘dared’ to try using the Emirate 380 model. Perhaps because they are serially devoted to the belief that frequent flights are a greater selling point, perhaps because of the higher initial investment (though I wonder at the difference between say two B777’s and one A380) and allegedly because it is an European extravaganza. The larger European carriers all use the A380 and it seems (with the notable and peculiar exception of Air France) with considerable success. But I suspect the root cause is the belief that frequency of flight trumps all – without of testing if pleasure of flight might just be a more effective way of competing.

  4. Without having a complete answer, I believe some other carriers are trying to emulate Emirates’ model. Qatar and Etihad are based in the region with similar networks, and Cathay Pacific and Singapore Airlines are other examples of all-widebody, mainly long-haul carriers. One difference relative to Gulf competitors Qatar and Etihad is that Emirates is a step ahead in several ways. Emirates was founded in the 80’s, while Qatar was founded in the 90’s and Etihad in the 00’s. Emirates is at least twice as large in terms of yearly RPK’s relative to Qatar, and more than three times as large relative to Etihad. Since all three serve around 120-150 destinations, the difference in traffic basically constitutes the difference between fleets of A330’s and B77W’s, and a fleet of B77W’s and A380’s. Emirates probably runs a more effective marketing operation, and they claim that the very use of A380’s attracts passengers by and of itself. Certainly, many in the industry is studying the success of Emirates quite closely.

  5. Yes, but for an eight hour flight three times a day is plenty enough frequency surely?

  6. The US carriers have only recently started to take up the 777-300ER, even though its been around for about 20 years. The difference seems to be USA carriers have a number of hubs each which cant on their own justify a big plane like the A380, while it seems all the other 380 users operate primarily from a single hub

  7. Actually we think JFK is a great place to deploy A380 to LHR for AA and even for the JV between DL and VS. In addition, DL could deploy an A380 to NRT from DTW.

  8. Out of all the world’s airlines, Emirates seems to be the carrier having the most success with the A380. I don’t see it fitting in with US carriers. When downturns in air travel occur, and they do from time to time, terror attacks, plunging economies, high oil prices, the A380 cannot be moved that easily to other routes and airports. If an airline can fill it, great, but its an expensive aircraft to park.
    Frequency is preferred over size.

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