A380 returns to the skies as Emirates calls superjumbo back into service

Many industry observers suspected that the A380 would never again spread its wings following the coronavirus disaster
Emirates A380

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Emirates will start operating Airbus A380 superjumbos on its London and Paris routes next month as the airline increases its capacity in response to a rise in demand across its network.

“A380 will return to the skies with flights to London Heathrow and Paris starting from 15 July,” the Dubai-based airline said in a tweet.

Many observers did not expect to see the A380 flying again after the coronavirus crisis destroyed air travel demand and made the superjumbo obsolete.

On Sunday, Dubai confirmed that it will begin welcoming tourists from 7 July for the first time since the UAE imposed travel restrictions because of the coronavirus.

Dubai-London is arguably Emirates’ most lucrative and popular route and one which the A380 is perfectly suited for given the few slots available at London’s airports. Emirates has traditionally been one of the few airlines able to operate the A380 profitably.

Earlier this week, Europe's largest airline Lufthansa announced that it was mothballing its entire A380 fleet. The ariline has already retired 14 of the aircraft amid the pandemic. Similarly, Air France has retired its A380s early.

While Emirates has begun restricting its fleet to include newer, more efficient wide-bodies like the 787, 777X and A350, the airline will still need to make use of the A380 in the near future.

Sir Tim Clark, the airline's president, said recently that the giants of the sky - the Airbus A380 and Boeing 747 – are “over” in the wake of the coronavirus disaster.

But with 115 A380s in its fleet and a handful more due to be delivered, the aircraft still forms the backbone of Emirates’ fleet and will have to continue flying until the airline starts receiving its A350s and 787s in 2023, even if the jets cannot be completely filled.

Prior to Covid-19, airlines were generally planning on keeping the 15-year-old A380 in their fleets and upgrading them. Qantas launched an ambitious overhaul programme to upgrade its superjumbo fleet and Airbus CEO Guillaume Faury told Aviation Business that the A380 would continue to serve places like London, where there are very few take-off and landing slots available.

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