UAE airline Emirates is hoping to operate 100% of its network by this time next year, according to comments made by the airline’s COO today. The airline suffered a complete suspension of operations earlier this year as the UAE government banned passenger flights to halt the spread of COVID-19.
Around the world, recovery is taking place within the aviation industry. However, many airlines and industry bodies believe it will take until 2024 for passenger levels to return to those of 2019. As passengers slowly return, airlines are reactivating their routes, with some seeing demand increasing faster than expected.
Full network by summer 2021
Speaking to CNBC today, Emirates’ COO Adel al Redha commented that he sees 100% of the airline’s pre-pandemic routes having an Emirates service by this time next year. Al Redha told the channel,
“I think we can easily say by Summer ’21 we will be serving 100% of our network destinations. That means 143 destinations will be served by summer ’21. Obviously the frequency of flights per day will depend on demand…”
While Emirates may be planning on serving all 143 of its destinations by this time next year, they are unlikely to see the same number of flights as before the pandemic.
Indeed, we have already seen the carrier scale back its capacity ramp up on a key European route. Emirates was quick to place its giant Airbus A380 back onto its route to Amsterdam. However, after just two weeks of operation, the aircraft was replaced with a Boeing 777 due to lower than anticipated demand.
However, it works both ways. This week we saw Emirates operate the world’s first-ever Airbus A380 flight to Clark in the Philippines due to a surge in demand.
While its good to see Emirates targeting a complete restoration of its expansive network, capacities are likely to remain dull for some time. For example, a service that is usually a double daily might be scaled back to just once a day. Some quieter destinations could see services stripped back even further.
What does this mean for the Airbus A380 fleet?
Al Redha didn’t mention the Airbus A380 fleet. However, it will likely be positively impacted by the return of more routes. Emirates is closely watching the demand for flights and is scheduling the A380 wherever it sees sufficient need. London Heathrow already has a second daily A380 flight.
Tied with an increase in routes will be an increase in fleet demand. According to Planespotters.net, the airline has 142 Boeing 777s with a passenger configuration. However, it will likely operate an increasing proportion of its routes with the Airbus A380 as time goes by. The big question is when will other airlines will begin to reactivate the Airbus A380?