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Friday, July 13, 2018

Flair in the air: A380 has changed the way we fly!

Dubai's Emirates has the largest fleet of A380s, with 104 aircraft in service and 58 new A380 aircraft pending delivery.

  • Aircraft's quiet interiors, anti-turbulence systems and soft-mood lighting secures loyal following.
Ask any traveller about their favourite aircraft to fly on, and chances are that they will select an Airbus A380, experts say.

The experience of flying on the largest passenger plane in the world has allowed the Airbus A380 to secure a loyal following of travellers, who prefer to fly on the aircraft due to its wide range of features such as quiet interiors, anti-turbulence systems and soft-mood lighting. Passengers travelling in business and first class also prefer the aircraft due to it boasting several unique features such as onboard showers, meeting lounge, private suites, and special menus.The iconic double-decker made its first flight on April 27, 2005 and entered into commercial service on October 25, 2007 with Singapore Airlines. Emirates soon followed, taking delivery of its first A380 in July 2008, and soon becoming the biggest customer for the aircraft's manufacturer.

Like many of Airbus' other projects, the various parts of the A380 aircraft are made in different locations across Europe, before being sent for final assembly in a purpose-built facility at Toulouse-Blagnac Airport in southern France. Today, Emirates has the largest fleet of A380s, with 104 aircraft in service and 58 new A380 aircraft pending delivery.

"Emirates' position as the biggest customer and operator of the A380 means that they'll continue to reap economies of scale across its network," Saj Ahmad, an analyst at London's StrategicAero Research, told Khaleej Times.

"There is no question that passengers enjoy the onboard experience of the A380, given that the airline has catered for all cabin classes; whether that be the privacy of first class, the lounge at business class, or the thousands of hours of entertainment for economy passengers. And with more A380s yet to be inducted, it stands to reason that Emirates will exploit the cabin features of the A380 across its network and pull in more customers," he explained.

According to Airbus, 240 airports around the world can accommodate the A380, which has carried almost 250 million passengers since its entry into service. The A380 fleet makes over 300 flights per day, and an A380 is scheduled to take off or land at an airport every two minutes on average. In addition, more than 120 A380 routes are operated by 13 airlines across 60 destinations, with more routes being announced every year.
Japan's All Nippon Airways is one the latest airlines to place an order for the A380, finalising an order for three aircraft in 2016. The airline is scheduled to take delivery of the three aircraft in March, June, and September 2019. A popular feature of the aircraft are its customisations in the business and first class decks. Both Qantas and Singapore Airlines, which is scheduled to take delivery of a few new A380s, have revealed that they are going to be unveiling new premium products, and retrofitting their older aircraft to offer a more refreshed experience.

Most recently, Emirates operated a one-off special A380 flight to Islamabad in Pakistan, amid hopes that plans for a dedicated A380 service to the country would soon be finalised. If everything goes according to plan, both sides hope that another A380 route will be added to the aircraft's global route, with more to follow after the Pakistani capital.

Sheikh Majid Al Mualla, Emirates' divisional senior vice-president for commercial operations centre, revealed that the airline is already in dialogue with the Pakistani authorities and government.

"When we deploy an A380 on any route, we look at three things: the first has to do with demand and supply; in the case of Pakistan, we know that there is a lot of demand that averages above 90 per cent," he said. "The second thing that we look at is the capability of the airport to handle the passenger load and cater to the other requirements of the aircraft. Lastly, we look at traffic rights; in Karachi, for example, we have an open skies agreement. Right now we are very positive about launching the A380 services to Pakistan, starting from Islamabad."

Other destinations that might follow in the footsteps of Islamabad for the A380 route include Lahore and Karachi. Emirates has also confirmed that its 50th A380 destination, which will be launched on October 28, 2018, will be Osaka. Its 51st A380 destination will be Hamburg, which will be launched the very next day on October 29, 2018.

"There will definitely be more routes in the future, and our fleet is growing," Al Mualla said. "By 2020, our total fleet will go from 280 aircraft to 300 aircraft. We will also be replacing some of our older aircraft. The average age of our aircraft is 6.2 years, compared to the average age of 11.6 years recorded by IATA for many other airline fleets in the world. Our young fleet is almost half the age of the industry standard."

"There is no doubt that the A380 has had a big positive impact on aerospace manufacturing and the broader aviation industry, supporting hundreds of thousands of jobs and stimulating innovation and new product development in many related areas such as ground handling, catering, airport facilities and cabin products, to name a few," said Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, chairman of the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority, chief executive of Emirates airline and Group, and chairman of Dubai Airports.

Speaking at the ceremony to welcome Emirates' 100th A380 aircraft to its fleet, he said that the A380 has taken the flying experience for passengers to the next level. "For Emirates, the A380 has been a success. Our flight crew love to fly it and our customers love to fly in it," he said.

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