Why Emirates is spending $2 billion on its A380s and dreaming of a new giant

Why Emirates is spending $2 billion on its A380s and dreaming of a new giant

The Dubai-based airline has never given up on the mythical Airbus plane and is looking to make it more attractive with a new premium economy class.

Time spent in airline hangars due to unprofitability, the A380 – which has not been produced by Airbus for three years – is now struggling to sustain a strong recovery in global air travel.

The largest plane in the world flies with Qatar Airways, ANA, British Airways, can find the sky with Lufthansa… and has never stopped with Emirates, the first and largest user of the device. Currently, 70 of the 118 units are in operation, and this number will increase to 80 by the end of the year and to 118 next summer. Or the entire fleet of the company.

And Emirates is still spending lavishly on its modernization. It is investing $2 billion to equip it with a new premium economy class ready to accommodate 56 passengers. This may seem insignificant on an aircraft that can exceed 600 seats at its longest. But Emirates is betting big on this new category of traveler.

Business classes with competitors “not on par”

“This is not an upgraded eco-class,” Cédric Renard, general manager of France of Emirates, explains to BFM Business.

“Located on the upper deck of the A380, it includes all business class codes such as reception, meals and entertainment,” he continues.

The executive suggests that this new class will outshine rivals’ business classes “which are not up to standard.” So you can say that some business classes are less premium than premium economy. “Our belief is that Eco customers will want to have fun, and that’s exactly the clientele we’re targeting.” Deployed on 3 aircraft in the fleet, this new class has received “very good feedback”, assures the CEO.

Business travelers may also consider this as an alternative, especially as the company notes “a very strong recovery for this clientele in the Gulf region and from the Emirates to Europe and the United States”.

“A380 is profitable”

In short, the A380 still has a bright future at Emirates because the company – thanks to its clientele, positioning and the connections it offers – from Dubai can make it a profitable aircraft.

And this with very high operating costs, especially in terms of fuel. “We have to make a correlation between the number of transported passengers and the gas”, – claims Cedric Renard, who clarifies that the company “has provided itself” with fuel, which allows it to avoid sudden costs for the time being. “This is a separate product that brings profit,” says the manager.

That doesn’t stop the company from working on “clean” flights, a sector that aims to be carbon neutral by 2050. in this process since 2017, but there is a need to have a sector,” the manager recalls.

Large carriers remain at the heart of the company’s strategy, while its rivals are betting on smaller, single-aisle aircraft. With the A380 no longer in production, the company has ordered at least 50 A350s from Airbus.

“They have their relevance, because the world air transport will grow by 4-5% a year, airports are overloaded,” the official said.

The company even dreams of a new state-of-the-art jet that will have the same capacity (around 500 to 600 seats) but be lighter and therefore less expensive to operate.

Very banal: Airbus and Boeing do not believe

In an interview with Art CNN Travelits boss, Tim Clark, explains that the needs justify this new device based on forecasts of passenger traffic growth of 4.5% per year from this year.

“Is it possible to redesign the new A380? Yes. Is it possible to lighten the plane? Yes. Imagine a composite wing and a mostly composite fuselage. What you have today. You get a lighter, much more fuel-efficient aircraft that ticks all the boxes on environmental issues “.

“The revised A380 has all its interest,” says Cédric Renard. However, Airbus and Boeing have already expressed their doubts. As well as large companies. In short, Emirates is a bit lonely on this one.

6000 sets

When asked by BFM Business, the European aircraft manufacturer seems to believe that the A350-1000, the largest aircraft in its catalog, is meeting the demand for jets.

“Our product strategy is to continuously develop our aircraft to meet the latest market demands, as evidenced by the commercial success of our entire product line, including the largest A350-1000 produced to date. Our next aircraft, which will enter service in early 2024 , will be the A321XLR, and by the middle of the next decade we are aiming for a carbon-neutral aircraft known as zeroE,” said the door-to-door person.

“There’s certainly room for a replacement for the Boeing 747, but I don’t think there’s enough demand to launch a program for aircraft larger than the A380,” explains Jeff Van Klaveren, aviation analyst and managing director of independent aviation consultancy IBA A really big the plane is key to Emirates’ business model because 70% of their passengers transfer to other flights, but I don’t think Airbus or Boeing will build one just for them.”

Emirates has no shortage of 300,000 recruitment applications

While European air traffic in Europe has been hampered by staff shortages on all floors, Emirates says it has largely anticipated the situation. And the numbers are dizzying.

The company is hiring in bulk: 4,000 crew members, 600 pilots and 140 types of positions offered for a total of 6,000 hires. And focused on salaries, benefits such as free living in Dubai… “We measured the world we face,” emphasizes Cédric Renard, CEO of France.

These levers seem to be working well, with the company receiving at least 300,000 applications for its recruitment campaign.

And these campaigns continue, especially in France. Two open days will be held on October 11 at the Hilton Hotel in Paris-Charles de Gaulle and on October 13 at the Marriott Cité Internationale Hotel in Lyon. On to your resumes!

Olivier Cichepartiche BFM Business Journalist

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