Good week for very large aircraft as both A380 and 747-8 win new orders

written by | April 14, 2016
Emirates' first A380 service to Perth on May 1 2015 (Brenden Scott)
Emirates Airbus A380 A6-EOH flying over Perth in May 2015. (Brenden Scott)

Airbus’s A380 program has received a boost with its largest customer Emirates adding an extra two aircraft to its already hefty order book, while Boeing has also confirmed a fresh order for four 747-8s.

The Dubai-based carrier says the extra two A380s, which will be configured in a two-class format featuring business and economy and powered by Rolls-Royce engines, will be delivered in the fourth quarter of 2017. It takes Emirates’ total A380 orders to 142, with 75 currently in service and 67 on firm order.

Emirates president Sir Tim Clark said the additional A380 orders come as his airline planned to retire 30 older aircraft from the fleet between now and the end of 2017.


“At the same time, to meet our growth expectations, we will receive delivery of 24 new Boeing 777 and 33 new A380 aircraft including these two additional A380 aircraft just ordered,” Clark said in a statement on Wednesday.

“This is in line with our strategy to operate a modern and efficient fleet and offer the best possible experience for our customers.”

Emirates said the addition of Prague, Taipei and Vienna to the airline’s A380 network in the period ahead would bring to 42 destinations served by the world’s largest commercial passenger aircraft.

Bloomberg reported Emirates was taking the two A380s that were originally built for Japanese airline Skymark and currently sit in storage at Airbus’s facility in Toulouse.


Skymark had ordered six of the type but had the order cancelled by Airbus. The airline later filed for bankruptcy in May 2015.

This is the third fresh order for A380s so far in 2016, after Japan’s ANA and Iran Air ended a three-year drought for new orders in February. ANA put pen to paper for three of the type for flights to Hawaii and Iran Air agreed to acquire 12 A380s as part of the airline’s fleet modernisation program and following the lifting of economic sanctions against the country.

The Airbus website said as of March 31 the company had 319 total orders for the A380, with 184 in service and 185 due for delivery.

Meanwhile, the order for two A380s comes a week after Boeing logged four new orders for its 747-8 program. The orders were from an unidentified customer, according to the Boeing website. There have been 125 total orders for the 747-8 passenger and freighter models, with 23 aircraft yet to be delivered.

Lenn Bayliss First 747-8 to Wellcamp Airport Monday 23 November 2015
A Cathay Pacific Boeing 747-8F at Wellcamp Airport in November 2015. (Lenn Bayliss)

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  • Geoff


    As mentioned before, there will be many more to follow, as this magnificent aircraft continues to display its credentials and win over airlines and their pax. The latest despatch reliability stats are impressive.

    China Southern, British Airways, Etihad, Qatar, Iberia will order more. Cathay will be a new customer and maybe even Delta. Emirates have their method of transforming 777-300ER routes into A380 ones with certainty. Sir Tim strikes again!

    The NEO will proceed at some stage, probably as a -900 or 850 (smaller stretch). We will see.

  • john doutch


    What is EK’s intention with the retired A380’s?

  • Geoff


    Slight correction. Iberia will be a new operator. They are a member of course of IAG.

  • Craigy


    BA have said they are in the market for used A380s

  • Jason


    Is ‘Geoff’ really John Leahy under cover?

  • adammudhen


    Easy there Geoff, while it’s good news for very large aircraft, placing 2 already-built aircraft (that Airbus may very well lose money on even with this sale) with the airline that is responsible for more than 50% of the entire A380 production may not be the light at the end of the tunnel yet.

    I’d suggest 4 new-build 748s is a more encouraging sign. But as always, only time will tell and any sale’s a good one.

  • paule


    …and you would think with all that surplus cash, that QANTAS would be at least completing its order of these magnificent aircraft – if not increasing the order. The A380 is an awesome aircraft to watch and a wonderful aircraft to fly in. That’s of course provided the airlines resist the temptation to shove another seat across
    downstairs! The A380 is, at last, proving to be a winner for the airline that fly them. People DO change their flight plans to fly on this aircraft as their plane of choice.

  • G.


    The A380 is a big, big failure. Qantas should not have bought them. They are an Aircraft Engineers ‘nightmare’ and when Qantas operate them on routes to the USA they actually loose money. They where never meant to be flown on more then 12 hour sectors; as designed by Airbus themselves and Qantas should have bought the Boeing 777-300ER’s instead.
    What and see if the A380 is withdrawn from the USA routes once the 787-9 come online.

  • k lane


    Any thoughts who is the likely candidate for the 4 x 747-8 InterContinental’s?

  • Dane


    I imagine there’ll be big demand for second hand A380s in the Asian market for short to medium haul operations at some of the larger airports as slots become harder to get.

  • TC


    It isn’t all rosy for the e380..You failed to mention
    losing 3 important orders,within the past 6 months. .
    With more certain to follow…
    Surprised no one seems to mention how overinflated their backlog really is..
    How long do you think Amedeos’ order will be on the books,not to mention, Virgin,hong kong airlines,and Qantas already stated, that’s all for them as well..

  • Adam


    My take on the article is that it’s 30 older aircraft eg: some a330, B777 and all a340s being retired. So no second hand emirates a380s for a few years yet.

  • Adam


    I’m reading that Emirates plan to get 12 years out of them too. So starting at 2020 retirements.

  • Sean


    I’d like to know where you are getting your information from Geoff, Cathay Pacific have said form the start they are not interested in the A380. Maybe your confused with there order for the A350 and thank god for that. I go out of my way to avoid the A380, it’s big, slow, overweight and ugly.

  • Jarden


    Very interesting comments everyone keep them coming!

  • Geoff


    Good to see so many comments on this subject.

    Emirates are at the top of their game. Their A380’s have been strategic assets, purposely! Sir Tim and top EK management are very shrewd operators indeed.. Bear in mind that EK are the most experienced users of A380’s. Maybe the same for the wonderful Boeing 777.

    Cathay have not ruled out A380’s and for good reason; their slot constrained airport, plus Heathrow of course. Their third runway will not be commissioned for some time. No confusion. Read their latest data.

    Sean, you’re right on two points though as the A380 is big and the A350 will be a great vehicle for CX as it will be for all airlines who have ordered it! However, the A380 is not slow (approach, yes and deliberately so). It has an ideally higher cruise speed than any other wide-body. It is happier at Mach .855 than at .83. (Mmo .89). Regarding weight, the wing and undercarriage, remember, are designed to incorporate a “stretch”, whereby the -900 would be the ideal airframe. Maybe read QF32 and Captain Richard’s further research on this..

    By the way, most people go out of their way to fly on the A380 as it offers a superior passenger experience usually, with its quietness and extra space. The various airlines have some seating influence here of course. EK know this very well.

    Ugly? Maybe, in your opinion, but Pelicans are also, perhaps, but they fly beautifully!

    Adammudhen…..your percentage quote? Incorrect. Happy to be proven otherwise.


  • Craigy


    So @G Qantas profit is from routes not using the A380?

    I myself love the A380. Go out of my way to book my flights on it

  • Mark


    What a great aircraft the A380 is. I am certainly one of many travellers that seek out this aircraft where possible. The reaction of anyone I know that has flown in this aircraft for the first time is nothing but positive. Hopefully QF introduce more of these aircraft over time.

    G; please provide evidence that QF are losing money on flights to LA/DFW with the A380. I think you are very wrong with this statement.

  • PAUL


    As AirNZ has shown easier to operate the big twins with 2 less engines to maintain & good capacity on the 777-300ER but would be good to have a few 747-8’s for high passenger numbers around holiday periods.

  • Adrian P


    Instead of high speed rail Melbourne – Sydney how about A380 flights.

    No massive infrastructure costs, no destruction of the bush, excellent reliability.

  • Robert


    A380 has raised the bar on air travel and forced others to follow suit with improvements.

    Its quieter, smoother, has better quality air conditions and is generally more comfortable for passengers. Passengers arrive in their destination feeling in better condition after a long flight than if they flew on the 747.

    Passengers pay a premium to fly the A380. Airlines are able to extract a higher average fare price for an A380 because passengers actively look to fly the A380 over other aircraft.

    Engineers might not like the A380 but passengers prefer it. Last time I checked it was passengers who bought airline tickets and not engineers.

  • Nick


    Yes Robert, passengers are the ones that buy tickets but they won’t pay the premium required to make the A380 profitable when flown on sectors longer than 12 hours. The combination of high fuel burn and higher than expected engineering costs makes it difficult to make a profit on the long sectors that Qantas bought it for. Don’t be surprised to see Qantas retire them soon after they have reached 12 years and the remaining 8 that were ordered definitely will not be delivered. QF was assured that this aircraft will cruise economically at M0.85 but, in service, it has had to been cruised slower than that in order to keep the fuel burn down.

    No one disputes that it has great passenger appeal but if an airline can’t make money with it, then it’s a dud.

  • aries1470


    Nick, you remind me of “Apple”, as in “you ar eholding the phone the wrong way / you are holding it wrong” 😉
    It is up to the “bean counters” to figure out how to make it profitable.
    Checked on the internet, on consumption etc, and it’s making a great profit.
    Now, if they are unable to break even, they should then be having those routes intermixed with other aircraft, so, the A380 can be filled to capacity, for example twice or thrice weekly, and the other days the other aircraft… 😉 Then they can see which is making a better profit, a double decker bus, or a less capacity, single floor one, aka boeing.
    I don’t think that they would be running at a loss for so many years if that is the real problem. Which company in their right mind would do that?

    Unless they change them all to Asia and East – West coast.

    As for Mel-Syd, it does not have enough flying time to reach its economical flying ceiling, but you can correct me if I am wrong, because by the time it reaches cruising altitude, it is nearly time to get back down again 😉 The route is just to short. Going to NZ might be a better option, or BNE. 🙂

  • Geoff


    Emirates seem to operate these fine aircraft with ease and with very high load factors, because passengers seek out their A380’s. Their passengers are mostly accommodated by well trained cabin crew offering consistent products accross the classes. These factors are vital ingredients for a successful outcome. Maybe, they have the right recipe and other airlines could learn something? Certain airlines seem to succumb to inconsistency of product/service according to passenger comments found elsewhere on this site. The EK bar is high. I agree Robert. Great!

    Re fuel burn, EK have wisely chosen RR power for the newest 52 A380’s and these will offer a 1% fuel burn reduction from 2017. Other aerodynamic refinements will render a further 1% fuel burn reduction. Therefore the aircraft is getting better with the finest engineering R&D being incorporated and some, suitably retrofittable. Bring on the -900 (the real Sweet-spot) and maybe a NEO version.

  • Clifford


    who let the boeing and airbus sales peple in here?

  • Amazing Just How Many COMMENTS That Have Been Raised.

    Obvious ‘Tension, ” Between Airbus and Boeing Supporters.

    G. says
    April 15, 2016 at 11:14 a.m.

    Wait and see if the A380 is withdrawn( by Qantas ) from the USA routes once the 787 – 9 comes online ”

    I am of the opinion that this will not be the case. Perhaps, use Boeing 787 – 9 to supplement A380 on
    Pacific Route

    One Of Qantas’ Best Revenue Generating Routes Especially Due To Large Capacity A380 . . . .

  • DAK


    The A380 has a way to go still. The new stretch version would most probably give lower operating costs.

  • DAK


    To add to previous comment-Great to see ongoing thread for this topic. I think the A380 is a work of art and like most in-service aircraft, it gets better. Airbus’ wing re-work has also helped yield better SFC, I believe. Great to fly in. 787 is certainly economical though.

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