Where next for the Emirates A380?

Hello Tomorrow! That’s what the advertising says. But when the world’s most famous airline has the largest order of the largest passenger aircraft ever built, we have to ask ourselves “where are they all being flown”?

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EMIRATESSKY

The Airbus A380 is the main aircraft in the Emirates fleet, so let us take a look at some basic facts of the A380 on Emirates’ colours:

  • 55 A380s currently in the fleet
  • Over 45 airports visited
  • Over 30 separate destinations served
  • 32 million customers have flown the Emirates A380 so far
  • 85 more A380s on order
  • 467 million KM flown by the Emirates A380
  • That’s equivalent to 35,062 return flights (as of December, 2014)
  • Over 10,000 members of cabin crew have been used onboard
  • And over 1,000 pilots have flown the Emirates A380

(Source: http://www.emirates.com/uk/english/flying/our_fleet/emirates_a380/emirates_a380.aspx)

Photo: Andy Buchanan
Photo: Andy Buchanan

Destinations currently (at time of writing) served by the Emirates A380 from their hub at Dubai International Airport (DXB) are as follows (roughly in order of first flight): London-Heathrow, Sydney, Bangkok, Toronto, Paris, Seoul, Jeddah, Beijing, Manchester, Hong Kong, New York, Shanghai, Rome, Munich, Melbourne, Amsterdam, Moscow, Singapore, Los Angeles, Zurich, Mauritius, Barcelona, London-Gatwick, Kuwait City, Mumbai, Frankfurt, Dallas, San Francisco, Milan, and Houston. In addition, Auckland receives the Emirates A380 from Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane, but not directly from Dubai (this would be, at roughly 19 hours duration, the longest flight in existence)!

Kuala Lumpur and Tokyo-Narita used to have A380 services, but have since been downgraded by Emirates to a B777. Other small airports, such as Glasgow, Athens, Tehran, and Manila have also seen the Emirates A380 on rare occasions, but not in regular service.

The Emirates A380 taxiing at Singapore Changi Airport
The Emirates A380 taxiing at Singapore Changi Airport

So where exactly can Emirates fly next with their A380? Some prime destinations like Chicago are not yet A380-ready (for airports to accommodate the A380 of any airline it requires larger gates and aerobridges), whereas politics holds up destinations in India and China, with the latter not allowing Emirates any more daily flights into the country for the time being, so at the moment Emirates cannot expand there. It is only a matter of time, though, before they begin A380 across China, especially to the larger cities of Guangzhou, Chengdu, Shenzhen, and Wuhan. Perhaps even the likes of Kunming, Qingdao, or Chongqing will see the Super Jumbo one day soon, too.

In India, pretty much any airport that can accommodate the A380 is a great choice for Emirates, as flights between the Middle-East and the Sub-Continent are very popular. Now that the blanket ban on the A380 landing in India has been lifted by the Indian Government, Delhi, Bangalore, and Hyderabad (in that order) should be the immediate choices for Emirates. Dhaka in Bangladesh is also another option, and to a lesser extent Colombo in Sri Lanka, although when these airports will modernise enough to handle the A380 is anyone’s guess.

Africa could see A380 service to Cape Town, Addis Ababa, and possibly Lagos, but other than that I don’t think other airports on the continent are big enough. In South America, there are always rumours that Emirates’ flights to Sao Paulo in Brazil will soon be upgraded from a B777 to the A380, and possibly a tag on to Buenos Aires or Santiago may be on the cards.

Two final points of interest: First off, Emirates won’t be flying to Istanbul with the A380 any time soon, due to a strange rule by the Turkish authorities that have banned Emirates from using first class services to Turkey. If Emirates are not allowed to use first class suites, then it kind of rules out the profitability of the A380 on that route. Secondly, Emirates would like to fly to Mexico City from Dubai with their A380 (or any aircraft, for that matter), but the airport in Mexico City is situated abnormally high above sea level, which makes the engines work harder, thus burn more fuel etc., so the economists of the company have decided that with the current variants of the A380 that Emirates have in their fleet at the minute, they cannot make the journey between DXB and MEX without losing money (regardless of payload). EDIT: From 2016, Emirates will indeed fly the A380 to Mexico City!

Emirates crew on their way to the gate
Emirates crew on their way to the gate

I know that Emirates want to dominate the world with the A380 Super Jumbo, and it is always interesting to see what they have up their sleeve in terms of what new routes they want. Sometimes, simple politics puts a spanner in the works, and at other times, it’s just not economical enough to fly such a large aircraft somewhere, when a smaller aircraft that is cheaper to operate would be a better fit. But the future is certainly intriguing, and as Emirates say in their advertising: Hello Tomorrow! I can’t wait to see what’s around the corner!

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