Emirates drops its iconic A380 superjumbo from EIGHT routes

Mar 8, 2022

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Emirates has dropped its iconic Airbus A380 from eight major routes for the rest of 2022.

The airline appears to have swapped the quad-engined fuel-guzzler for the smaller Boeing 777 on routes from Dubai to an array of far-flung destinations, including three in China.

Related: It’s Official: The Airbus A380 Is Dead

The move has been seen as an indictment of how volatile demand for long-haul air travel is right now, reflecting air travel’s slower-than-expected recovery from COVID-19. It could also be seen as a further sign of the A380s quickening march towards the scrap heap. 

Asia has been particularly slow to return to old airborne ways, particularly China, whose zero-tolerance COVID-19 policy has stymied international air travel in the country. 

“Emirates’ planned A380 services to a few cities across our network has been deferred after a routine review of our operational requirements,” an Emirates spokesperson told The Points Guy. “Emirates is still committed on rebuilding our global network and services and we will announce the deployment of our A380 aircraft on specific routes at the appropriate time.”

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There has been some good news of late for the A380, however, after Emirates reopened its route to Brisbane on 1 March after Australia ended its two-year global travel ban. That came a month after the airline relaunched flights to Sydney and Melbourne.

But ultimately, it surely spells bad news for the A380, an aircraft that was once considered to be the future of air travel but is now swiftly approaching retirement as airlines look towards more efficient aircraft.

What are the flight changes in question?

A number of flights were expected to resume later this year, but according to Emirates’ latest flight schedules, the following routes have been postponed:

  1. Beijing (PEK): Was expected to return to a daily service from 1 July, but that route has been suspended for the year. 
  2. Shanghai (PVG): Was expected to return to a daily service from 1 July, but that route has been suspended for the year. 
  3. Hong Kong (HKG): Was expected to return to a daily service from 30 October. Instead, the daily B777-300ER, via Bangkok, will continue, plus the daily non-stop B777-300ER.
  4. Tokyo (NRT): Was expected to return to a daily service from 1 July. A380 is not planned for the rest of the year. Instead, the twice daily B777-300ER will continue.
  5. Birmingham (BHX): Was expected to return to a daily service from 1 July. A380 is not planned for the rest of the year. Instead, the twice daily B777-300ER will continue.
  6. Copenhagen (CPH): Was expected to return to a daily service from 30 October. Instead, the daily B777-300ER will continue.
  7. Nice (NCE): Was expected to return to a daily service from 1 July. A380 is not planned for the rest of the year. Instead, the daily B777-300ER will continue.
  8. Prague (PRG): Was expected to return to a daily service from 30 October. Instead, the daily B777-300ER will continue.

With a seating capacity of 853 passengers, the Airbus A380 is the largest aeroplane ever built. With a wingspan that almost runs the length of a football pitch, it is one of the most popular planes among jet-setters, thanks to what may well be the smoothest ride on a commercial aircraft.

Airlines have used the vast interior space of the largest passenger plane to innovate and improve the inflight experience by adding onboard bars, lounges and even showers.

But unfortunately, the A380 has fallen from grace in recent years as airlines have opted to instead fly more efficient twin-engine jets like the Boeing 787 and Airbus A350

Related: Will the Airbus A380 fly again once travel resumes?

Things got so dire that last year Airbus announced it would be permanently ending production of the A380. And then, of course, the coronavirus pandemic hit, grounding thousands of aircraft worldwide. 

As for Emirates, the airline has been the lifeblood of the A380 programme since its inception in the early 2000s, now accounting for almost half of its fleet. 

In fact, it was Emirates’ decision not to place an order for more A380s at the 2019 Dubai airshow (instead opting to order both A350 and 787) that ultimately foretold the end of the A380 production line.

Emirates CEO Tim Clark said in an interview last year that “we know the A380 is over,” but that doesn’t mean immediately. 

And now, this latest reduction in A380 flights could well signal another nail in the iconic superjumbo’s coffin.

Featured image courtesy of Emirates.

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