Emirates has issued a strong warning to Airbus not to delay the introduction of the A350.
“We have clearly told Airbus that we will not accept again what they did to us with the A380,” Emirates President Tim Clark told The Daily at the ITB tourism exchange in Berlin. He pointed out that unlike in the case of the A380 – which was two years late – Emirates has alternatives to buy elsewhere: “All I have to do is pick up the phone and order more Boeing 777s,” Clark stressed. He showed concerns that the schedule could already begin to slip. “We have told Airbus numerous times that in our view they should build in more margin in terms of time and performance parameters, but they wanted to have it their way. Now they are already eating into margins,” Clark criticized.
Emirates has plans to retire 58 aircraft in the coming years, among them the A330-200s, A340-300s and the early 777-300s and 777-200s. If the A350 was significantly delayed, those aircraft would have to be kept longer. They would then well exceed Emirates’ usual aircraft retirement age which is at around 10 years. The airline received its first 777s in the mid-1990s.
Clark stressed that Emirates still has a keen interest in the larger version of the A380, the A380-900. According to the airline’s calculations, it could operate the aircraft in a 647-seat, three-class configuration. With a range of around 4,500 naut. mi., the A380-900 would typically operate eight-hour sectors and could thus mainly be used for destinations in Europe and Asia up to Beijing, but not Tokyo. Clark believes Emirates could accommodate up to 20 A380-900s and would immediately order the aircraft if Airbus was prepared to build it and Dubai airport can handle the additional aircaft. Emirates is already the biggest A380 customer with 58 on firm order. It has eight flying and will receive seven more this year.