The world's largest operator of the Airbus A380, Emirates, has announced that it will begin retiring them from the fleet slowly. Its plan is to have around 90-100 A380s by mid-2020. Presently, the airline operates 112 A380 jets, which makes it the biggest in the world. Emirates previously ordered 162 superjumbos but decided to cut them to 123 in the wake of Airbus ending its production.
In a report by FlightGlobal, Emirates President Tim Clark said, “You’ll start seeing A380s coming out of our fleet for various reasons, and we’ve always said this”. “These are being dealt with on a tail-by-tail, month-by-month basis under a retirement [schedule] that is well planned already”, he continued.
According also to Clark, two A380s have been pulled out from service to be used for spare parts for the operational fleet. “We are in the process of [starting A380 retirements]. Two have been deactivated. They are under retirement because we’ve got a major overhaul coming up and it’s best to take the old aircraft out – they’re all written down – and take the gear off them rather than buy a $25 million main landing gear. I need two, possibly three, to meet that [overhaul] requirement.”
Despite its retirement, the A380 will remain as part of the Emirates fleet for the next 15 years or so but will gradually start to decline. “This aircraft will still be flying in Emirates in 2035. The fleet will stabilise at about 115…and then probably go down to about 90-100 by the middle of the next decade. So, the A380 will remain a major component of our fleet mix for the next 15 years at least," said Clark.
Emirates also believes that there is no second-hand market for the A380.
With this announcement, the airline will no longer push through with its plans to install new first class suites in the aircraft. Instead, it will be introducing Premium Economy beginning November of next year.
In the recent months, many airlines are beginning to retire the A380 from their fleet. Singapore Airlines, Air France, and Qatar Airways have all made their announcements to retire the superjumbo gradually.