Emirates, the biggest customer for the Airbus A380 superjumbo, will operate its first flight with the plane from Dubai to New York on August 1, it was announced yesterday.
The A380 service will operate alongside the carrier’s two existing daily flights to New York before taking over one of them after August 3, Emirates said in a statement.
Emirates said it is on par to have more than 450 aircraft in its fleet by 2020. The Middle East carrier said it is to increase its fleet size from the present 115 to 200 by 2012, in hopes of supporting its widening route network and increase service frequencies. It is scheduled to take delivery of 22 planes this year.
According to the airline, it has at present 243 planes on order with a total estimated value of $60 billion.
“Emirates has been doubling its size every three or four years since it started. I think we will continue with that kind of growth,” Shaikh Ahmad said during a session at the World Travel and Tourism Council Summit in Dubai.
Maurice Flanagan, executive vice-chairman of Emirates, told Gulf News the airline could even have 600 aircraft in 2020, but will settle for 450 because the airport would not be able to support an expansion of that size.
Dubai’s strategic location has helped the airline in its rapid expansion. Its airport is expected to handle 40 million passengers this year, 16.5 percent more than the number in 2007.
Dubai is expanding the existing airport at a cost of 15 billion dirham (approximately US$4 million) and the second concourse and Terminal 3 will be ready in the next three months.
The airline’s current aircraft order book includes 58 A380 superjumbo jets worth US$18.8 billion at list price.
Emirates is set to receive the 489-seat A380 aircraft on July 28.