Emirates mulls fast-tracking A380 retirement

Aviation Updates Philippines – The world's largest operator of the Airbus A380, Emirates, plans to fast-track the retirement of the jumbo-jet fleet after having been significantly affected by the suspension of operations amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

A report from Forbes' Will Horton says the possibility of retiring some of the A380s might seem "colossal" at this point. Around 46 jumbo-jets, roughly 40 percent of its 115-strong A380 fleet, may see the end of their service with the gulf carrier very soon.

However, the 46 aircraft estimate may just be preliminary. Sources from the airline, who wished to remain anonymous, said around 50 aircraft were discussed at first but was narrowed down to 46. The decision remains under evaluation; therefore, the actual number might be lower or higher than estimated.

Presently, Emirates has 115 Airbus A380 aircraft on its fleet — all of which are grounded. Eight more are expected to be delivered before European aircraft manufacturer Airbus halts production for the jumbo-jet by 2021.

Calling it a "black swan" event for the aviation industry, Emirates President Tim Clark told The National early-May the coronavirus may have killed the Airbus A380 and the Boeing 747 due to the crisis. The airline's chief said he sees a "slowing" demand for bigger aircraft post-COVID-19.

“We know the A380 is over, the 747 is over but the A350 and the 787 will always have a place. They may not be ordered soon, they may have orders deferred and pushed back, but eventually, they will come back, and they will be a better fit probably for global demand in the years post the pandemic,” Clark said.

On the other hand, the reduced aircraft coupled with the dwindling of international travel appetite might spell redundancies on Emirates' worldwide operations. More or less 30,000 jobs — approximately 30 percent of its employees — are now at risk of retrenchment following the stringent cost-saving measures of the carrier.

Although Emirates said it was still "reviewing costs", the company has not taken any action to redundancies, contrary to media speculation about the matter. This means lay-offs are unlikely to happen this time, at least according to Emirates.

“No announcement has been made regarding mass redundancies at the airline. Any such decision will be communicated in an appropriate fashion,” an Emirates representative said through the Government of Dubai's Media Office.

“Like any responsible business would do, our executive team has directed all departments to conduct a thorough review of costs and resourcing against business projections, even as we prepare for gradual service resumption.”
Emirates A380 taking off