Tags: Emirates | airline | Asia | travel

Emirates Seeks Global Supremacy With A380s Flying Asia-US Routes

Tuesday, 04 June 2013 08:28 AM

Emirates, the biggest international airline, said it’s studying plans to become the first completely global carrier by picking up people in Asia and flying them over the Pacific using the world’s largest roster of wide-body jets.

The Gulf operator’s fleet of Airbus SAS A380 superjumbos, set to grow to 90 planes, could comfortably fly from northern Asia to cities in the north and central U.S., as could Boeing Co.’s 777-200LR, Emirates President Tim Clark said in Cape Town.

“The last piece of the jigsaw is the trans-Pacific,” Clark said in a strategy briefing. “Where we will go, when we will do it, and with what, is under plan at the moment.”

Emirates serves 134 cities and has scope to double that, aided by orders for extra A380s and Boeing’s new 777X, Clark said. The carrier will be able to board people in Asia under liberalized traffic rights secured by the United Arab Emirates.

“The open skies arrangement that the U.A.E. has with the U.S. allows us to take passengers on a fifth-freedom basis from the west coast and central points in the U.S. to points in Asia,” he said. “On the other side of the equation we have open skies with Singapore, Thailand and certain points in Japan.”

Clark said that the plan for Pacific flights doesn’t change the aspirations of its business model, though these “have morphed into being a truly global airline.”

777X Interest

The 777X will most likely be available from 2020 or 2021, 18 months later than initially promised, Clark said, after Boeing decided to make the largest 787-10X Dreamliner available from 2018 pending a formal program go-ahead.

The 777 upgrade, featuring a new wing and engines, as well as larger windows and other cabin enhancements, should secure “a few hundred” orders initially for Boeing, which began formally marketing the model last months, Clark estimates.

“All the 777 operators are interested,” he said at the International Air Transport Association meeting in South Africa.

Emirates will likely buy both the 777-9, the larger model due first, and the smaller 777-8 that could carry 300 passengers on extremely long routes such as Sydney-Rome, he said.

Already the largest A380 customer, Emirates will order more of the planes once airport infrastructure constraints in Dubai are resolved around 2017, Clark said, adding that he remains interested in a stretched A380-900 that Airbus has not committed to.

Wing Fixes

Emirates is adding 44 planes this year after boosting its fleet by 34 in 2012 as it lifted full-year net income 34 percent to 3.1 billion dirhams ($840 million).

Growth in the next year will also be limited as Emirates parks A380s to install a fix to failed wing parts that have led to cracks. The airline has taken the first two affected jets out of service, with two more to follow shortly, Clark said.

The retrofit program for the 34 A380s already delivered to the airline should be completed by November 2014, with Airbus seeking to cut the downtime from 56 days to 40-45, he said.

The start of the upgrade was delayed as Airbus continues to struggle to meet delivery plans for new A380s, with some handovers falling as many as two months behind plan, Clark said.

“The delivery stream has been slow,” Clark said, adding that about seven A380s allocated to Emirates are “cluttering up the ramp” at Airbus’s fit-out facility in Hamburg, Germany.

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Emirates, the biggest international airline, said it's studying plans to become the first completely global carrier by picking up people in Asia and flying them over the Pacific using the world's largest roster of wide-body jets.
Tuesday, 04 June 2013 08:28 AM
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