On June 2nd, Emirates CEO Tim Clark spoke to shareholders about his plans for the airline’s future. The most significant part of the announcement is Clark’s plans for Emirates’ Airbus A380 fleet. While the airline’s A380 aircraft are quite young, with the latest aircraft planned for delivery in 2021 and an average fleet age of under ten years, the airline will be retiring its fleet of the superjumbo. The A380s will be replaced by the Boeing 777-9, the largest variant of Boeing’s popular 777 aircraft. With the replacement for the superjumbo being a smaller aircraft, Emirates will have more flexibility in terms of available route options.
It was expected that Emirates would make this announcement for some time, as the airline’s current oldest aircraft was delivered in 2005, making it nearly 15 years old. In general, Emirates maintains a very young fleet, with its average fleet age at just 6.4 years. To compare, the average fleet age of the largest airline in the world by fleet size, American Airlines, is 10.9 years, nearly double that of the middle eastern carrier.
Besides plans for the Emirates fleet, Clark also discussed sister airline FlyDubai’s fleet of troubled Boeing 737 MAX aircraft, stating that he does not think the aircraft will be back in service until December of 2019. If Clark’s prediction is correct, FlyDubai will see a significant reduction in service for a lengthy period of time, and it is likely that Emirates will have to operate certain flights for the airline that are beyond the range of the airline’s 737-800 fleet, should FlyDubai be unable to find a suitable replacement for the remaining time that the aircraft is grounded.