Emirates, the biggest airline on international routes, said it will deploy Airbus Group NV A380s to more and more U.S. cities as it swells the world’s biggest superjumbo fleet with 13 new planes through the end of 2015.
Dubai-based Emirates switched to A380s on its Dallas route on Oct. 1 and will upgrade San Francisco and Houston flights in December, with further U.S. destinations set to get the double- decker, Chief Commercial Officer Thierry Antinori said today.
Emirates also added three wholly new routes U.S. routes in 2012, followed by Milan-New York in 2013, and has opened Boston and Chicago this year. The move to A380s on services established using smaller Boeing Co. 777s will challenge U.S. and European carriers that have dominated trans-Atlantic flying for decades while employing capacity constraint to keep prices buoyant.
“In the future we will continue to open destinations and introduce A380s in more cities because the market just wants and likes this airplane,” Antinori said, adding that U.S. demand is increasing both for Gulf flights — with Dubai “developing strongly” — and onward services to locations such as India.
Emirates will have 68 A380s in operation by the end of 2015 compared with 55 today, having boosted the fleet from 44 as of Jan. 8. The carrier has orders for a total of 140 superjumbos after topping up an initial contract for 90 planes with a $20 billion deal for 50 more at the Dubai Air Show last November.
Antinori, who spoke in Dubai, said that it’s not simply the case that Emirates has stripped traffic away from Western network carriers such as his former employer Deutsche Lufthansa AG, but that the A380 has also stimulated demand.
Whereas the top 20 European airlines carrying 400 million passengers a year have 30 A380s between them — in service with three carriers — Emirates has almost double that number.
“We did that by stimulating the market,” he said. “It’s not shifting business from the competition, our competitors are not smaller than before. But I think we give good reason for people to fly more.”
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