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Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Emirates Chief Says 30 More A380s Needed

Curfews at destination airports and a lack of space at the carrier’s Dubai base are the main constraints on lifting an existing order for 90 of the world’s biggest passenger planes to 120, President Tim Clark said today in an interview.

Emirates, the biggest A380 customer, has exploited the Gulf’s position at the heart of inter-continental flight paths to build a hub served by waves of departures, stripping traffic away from older network carriers in Europe and Asia. Clark said he’s mulling superjumbo flights to locations including Houston, Los Angeles and San Francisco as in-service enhancements to a model introduced in 2007 bring the cities within range.

“We know what we want to do, we know where we could put more than 90 A380s today,” the executive said by telephone from Dubai. “It’s a question of can we actually fit them in? The economics of Houston are very powerful. That would be an extremely attractive proposition.”

Water Tanks

Airbus has boosted the superjumbo’s performance by adding refinements such as a more aerodynamic wing profile. Emirates A380s flying today are already three or four tons lighter than when the carrier took its first planes, and other improvements from the Toulouse, France-based manufacturer are likely once fixes for wing cracks have been fully introduced, Clark said.

Emirates has meanwhile driven efficiencies via measures of its own such as curtailing water usage, Clark said. Only about 60 percent of the water carried on its A380s -- which feature onboard showers -- is actually used, and shrinking the tank could save four tons in weight.

Emirates added 15 destinations last year, including Rio de Janeiro, Buenos Aires, Barcelona and Seattle. The carrier also introduced a fifth daily A380 flight to London on Dec. 10, and has already this year announced extra superjumbo flights to New York John F. Kennedy and Paris Charles de Gaulle airports.

Adding long-haul routes can quickly “gobble up” new planes, Clark said, with a single daily frequency to Houston alone requiring 2.5 aircraft, making additional orders desirable.
Crowded Terminals

While the scope for new destinations is increasing, limited airport opening hours elsewhere and pressure on terminal capacity in Dubai are constraining growth, Clark said.

The opening on Jan. 2 of the first four of 20 A380-only gates at Dubai International Airport has been factored in to existing fleet plans, and landing slots and airspace over the United Arab Emirates may become scarce as Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways PJSC and budget carrier FlyDubai add flights, he said.

“The airspace management around us, that’s proving to be quite complex,” Clark said. “We’ve got many carriers in the U.A.E. growing at quite a pace.”

In the U.S., Emirates has commercial relationships with JetBlue Airways Corp. (JBLU) at Kennedy and Alaska Airlines in Seattle which allow for connecting flights, and Clark said he aims to “push into other points” with the former. Integrated schedules would allow for easier transfers, though the airlines need to be “careful” about antitrust and pricing issues, he said.

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Live to love and love to live. The motto that I held on my entire life. Just a regular guy who loves what I am passionate in life. A song writer and producer. Living life on the move. From Malaysia to The States, New Zealand to Singapore. With the companion of great people in life. In and out from the music industry. Taking everything one step at a time. 
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