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Dubai-based Emirates Airline will get its 79th Airbus A380 soon, and two more aircraft are in the pipeline. “That means by the end of next month we have 81 A380s in the fleet,” Emirates president Tim Clark told the Executive Report on the sidelines of the IATA AGM in Dublin.
Clark said if an A380neo was built, he understood it would have bigger winglets, delivering a significant improvement on fuel burn. “If Airbus does not build the A380neo, but will put new, bigger winglets on existing A380s we have on the order book, that would be great,” Clark said.
“However, there are no plans to build bigger winglets for the current A380s.”
Earlier this week at a media event in Hamburg, Airbus president & CEO Fabrice Brégier said, “perhaps it is possible to offer some options regarding bigger, more efficient winglets, but this depends on the business case. The A380 is not an easy program to manage. Each time we need to invest on top of any very reliable aircraft, which is what we have today, we need to look at the return on investments.”
Brégier said market conditions were not yet there to launch a neo variant and “we don’t plan to make any decision.”
Clark said the global economy was flat, but passenger numbers were increasing at a rate of 4%-5%. “But that is not enough to fill the capacity that is coming in,” he noted. “Seat and yield factors are not as strong as they used to be, and the prognosis for me, for the next years, is about the same. But we always manage it; we have had good years, and we have had bad years.”
Asked whether there were too many A380s in the Emirates’ fleet, Clark said, “Oh no, never enough, no way. The A380 is the sweetest thing for us. It is our one unique selling point; this is a marketing advantage.”
Clark said the next new European destination for the Dubai carrier’s A380 will be Nice, France.