Photo of Emirates a380 flying

Big jets are under siege. Boeing just announced the end of production for the iconic 747 Queen Of The Skies, and many airlines have retired, or mothballed their gigantic Airbus A380 “Super Jumbo” fleets. With hardly anyone traveling, let along flying, there just isn’t enough demand to justify two decks, unless of course – you’re Emirates.

Emirates Adds 6th A380 Destination

While airlines scramble to fill planes of any size, Emirates is aggressively rolling its biggest birds out to markets all over the globe. As of August 16th, the Emirates A380 will begin service to Toronto, adding a North American gateway to the list of current A380 flights including Cairo, London, Paris, Guangzhou and Amsterdam.

As of August 2020, Emirates is serving 70 overall destinations, which represents circa 50% of its pre-pandemic network. The move is in stark contrast to other airlines, many of which have permanently retired the A380, including Air France. Lufthansa also sent six A380’s into retirement.

Qatar Airways recently proclaimed flying the A380 “is not commercially or environmentally justifiable to operate such a large aircraft in the current market”, after noting the airline had no plans to bring the aircraft back in service in 2020, or perhaps ever.

a bed with a television on the side of it

Emirates A380’s famously offer private first class suites with doors, the airlines best business class seat, and some of the widest seats, with the most legroom in economy. Sadly, the upstairs bar, and first class showers, two iconic and unique elements of the Emirates A380, are closed for social distancing.

Emirates Re-Launch Success

After temporarily grounding all flights, Emirates seems to be enjoying a secret sauce which is bringing passengers back. That sauce seems to be rooted in safety. Emirates now requires all passengers to present a recent negative covid-19 test pre departure, with Dubai mandating negative tests, even for transit passengers.

an airplane flying over water

As a trade off, all passengers receive complimentary covid-19 coverage, which covers up to €150,000 in expenses, including medical care and repatriation, if you catch covid-19 abroad within 31 days of your departing Emirates flight. The coverage applies even to destinations onward from where your Emirates flights lands, which is impressive.

Emirates also flies the Boeing 777-300, which offers greater cargo capacity, so any move to add the A380 is a clear sign that passenger demand is actually returning, and not just empty hope. As country restrictions begin to lift and more robust and uniform testing measures are put in place at airports around the globe, Emirates is in a strong position to win flyers back.

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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  1. Most of the airlines that have retired the A380 always lacked imagination and innovation, whilst filling their upper levels of management with incompetence. At high salaries.

    There is no question that demand for travel is down, but those airlines were doing badly before and will continue to do badly when passengers return in large numbers. Eventually people will choose them because they have no choice, not because they are an outstanding airline.

    I have no sympathy for them despite having been a big fan of at least one of them in the past.

    BTW, I really liked your post on Twitter regarding air-conditioning. It is not just Americans who don’t understand British attitudes towards it! 😉

    1. Wouldnt agree with you more, social distancing means flights will always 3/4 full at most and which better plane to attract huge numbers except a380… A 3/4 full a380 i think is better than a 3/4 777

  2. You should have noted that the majority or carriers flying the 380 pre virus have grounded their 380’s most permanently the balance other than the ME3 will never fly them again. The ME3 all plan to phase theirs out faster than previously planned.

  3. Let us face the reality. It is not only about tin – no matter if 777 or 380 – it is also about the travel experience. And this is on the ground like Emirates Lounge experience as well as on board. Just coming off my first BC trip since months – I felt like this has been close to being a surreal experience.
    First Class lounge in Dubai is still closed. BC lounge features lots of red tape… and who wants to enjoy a breakfast out of a lunch box or a glass of Champaign from a plastic pot?? Facing in flight personal looking like surgeons is not helping either – and don’t expect a pre Covid meal experience in BC. This will still take time, I guess.

  4. I travelled round trip 3 Trip, A380 /800 was a very nice and relaxing and comfortable flight. The plane is very spacious and luxurious including the interior, lighting and there was excellent service and the toilet size was a reasonable size.

  5. Don’t forget Emirates main type is A380. So in reality they have to fly them to continue in business. They don’t have smaller aircraft to replace them with. They will be flying the A380 with few passengers and be loss making for some time yet.

  6. The A380 may be a White Elephant to many airlines in the current context but it is really too unique an aircraft to ignore and to be put out to pasture, or worst, to be scrapped. As a military aircraft enthusiast, I am wondering if it would be a good idea for the Air Mobility Command of the US Air Force to buy up these forlorned A380 and covert them to Air Refueling Tankers. Yes, there were some structural problems in converting A380s to cargo carriers to make it economically attractive, but what about converting them to tankers? The A380 airframes in today’s pre-owned market are pennies to the dollar and perhaps that should be compensation enough to make a conversion economically doable. Can anyone shed some light on this possibility?

  7. Thanks to Emirates – you have given a new lease of life to a beautiful plane.

  8. Well BA flew a packed flight from Heathrow to Corfu Friday, I assume the other 2 that day were just as busy. 1 was 15 minutes earlier. Post the Spanish quarantine I imagine many other destinations will be equally packed out

  9. I think the airlines with A380s in their fleet have a real opportunity to leverage the plane and use it to their advantage – take some seats out of economy, reduce passenger density, improve comfort whilst promoting social distancing and become the first choice for people looking for long-haul travel…..and ultimately be able to command a price premium once passenger numbers have rebounded sufficiently.

    The A380 was, in my view, the best way to travel in the ‘old world’ as a long-hail passenger; with a little bit of creativity from the airlines, it wouldn’t take much to actually increase this differential in the COVID era and reinforce the A380’s position.

  10. Yes we all loved the 747 and lament it’s demise around the world. But thank God we still have the beautiful new queen of the skies, the A380. Even more fortunate the airplane owned and operated by the most passenger oriented and friendly airline in the world. If you have flown Emirates you know what I mean. If you have not, you need to book your next flight with Emirates and the A380. I refuse to fly any other carrier internationally unless Emirates just does not fly to my intended destination.
    The comfort of flying in the A380 is unsurpassed these days, especially in Emirates configuration of the A380. Service is excellent and reminiscent of how flying was in the “good old days”. So let’s support both Emirates and the new queen of the skies, the beautiful, comfortable, and best flying experience in the air, the A380. Let’s pray that she remains in the skies for at least another 20 years!,

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