Sheikh Ahmed: Emirates confident in A380

Dubai airline's chairman says it has full confidence in Airbus superjumbo, but has no plans to purchase more
Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, chairman and CEO of the carrier.
By Massoud A. Derhally
Wed 27 Feb 2013 09:52 AM

Dubai's Emirates Airline, the largest customer for Airbus's A380 superjumbo, is confident in the safety of the aircraft, Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, chairman and CEO of the carrier said.

"We have full confidence in the aircraft and have no plans to purchase any additional A380s at this time,” Sheikh Ahmed told Arabian Business.

Earlier this month Emirates dismissed a report by the London-based Daily Mail newspaper claiming that a door became partially open or that cabin pressure was lost on a recent Airbus A380 flight from Bangkok to Hong Kong.

Emirates, the world's largest airline by international passenger traffic, added the A380 to its fleet in 2008. The carrier currently has 31 of the aircraft in service with 59 more on order. Last month Emirates opened the world's first purpose-built A380 concourse at Dubai International Airport featuring 20 gates.

The double decker has been marred by engine faults and the discovery of small wing cracks which EADS, the parent of Airbus, said last year had cost the company more than €200m (US$261m) to repair in 2012. Cracks were located on brackets that attach the A380's wing ribs, caused by stress generated when the brackets were fastened to the skin during the manufacturing process. The discovery of the cracks has delayed the delivery of the planes to airlines. 

Toulouse-based Airbus has improved the superjumbo’s performance by adding refinements such as a more aerodynamic wing profile, but there are still some issues surrounding wing cracks.

In November last year an Emirates A380 jet on a flight from from Sydney to Dubai was forced to return to Australia when one of its engines failed soon after take-off. The airline has since replaced about nine faulty A380 engines. Australian airline Qantas also suffered an incident in 2010 when one of its A380s had one of its engines catch fire and shatter in midair.

Emirates president Tim Clark has said in the past that the carrier was studying ways by which it could accommodate more of the double decker planes it has on order and that space constraints at the moment do not allow the carrier to take on more of the aircraft.

Dubai Airports has invested US$7.9bn to expand capacity at Dubai International and it expects to handle 75m passengers by 2015, rising to 98m by 2020.

In an interview with Arabian Business in November, Emirates' Clark said the airline is likely to order 100 planes or more from Airbus rival Boeing if the US plane maker upgrades the design of the wide-body 777 with a newer model.  

If Chicago-based Boeing was to produce the next generation of the long-haul 777-300ER (Extended Range), its most profitable aircraft to date, an order of 100 jets from Emirates would probably cost more than US$36bn considering the current list price for the 777-300ER.

That would be Boeing’s largest single order after Emirates ordered 50 of the company’s 777-300ERs in November 2011. Emirates is the largest customer of the 777-300ER with more than 150 in its fleet or on order, and will begin retiring them in 2017. That is in addition to other models in its fleet like the 777-200, 777-300 and the 777-200LR.

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