Unlike the rest of the airline industry, Emirates simply prefers the larger A380 to the A350.
Emirates has not said much about why it cancelled its order for 70 Airbus A350s, but a senior executive from the Dubai-based airline speaking to analysts and reporters last week in New York shortly after the cancellation was announced offered some insight. He insisted Emirates did not cancel the order because it has suddenly decided that its belief in the future potential of the air passenger market in the Middle East has dimmed. And he hinted that, unlike the rest of the airline industry, Emirates simply prefers the larger A380 to the A350.
Emirates EVP-service departments Nigel Hopkins, speaking at an A380 briefing put on by lessor Amedeo (which has ordered 20 A380s) at New York JFK, emphasized that the airline had not changed its view about future passenger demand in the Middle East. The A350 cancellation “has nothing to do” with Emirates downgrading its demand forecast, he said. “This is not about demand,” he made a point of saying. “We’re absolutely optimistic about the future.”
But Hopkins did say Emirates increasingly sees the “flexible” A380 facilitating future growth because the aircraft’s large capacity allows it to operate to slot-constrained major airports and generate around the same revenue with one flight as two flights using a smaller widebody such as the A350.
“A number of the international airports of the world are constrained and we know that prime slots will continue to be at a premium and this is where the A380 does really well,” Hopkins explained, noting that Emirates has “just five slots at Heathrow, but we’ve grown revenue [using the A380 on London flights] and we couldn’t do that with other aircraft.”
Emirates is the world’s largest A380 operator; it will be operating 50 of the extra-large aircraft by the end of this month.