Emirates will press its Airbus A380 superjumbo into action in a special one-off flight to Clark in the Philippines after witnessing “tremendous demand” from customers in the UAE seeking to return home. There are currently around 750,000 expat Filipino workers living in the United Arab Emirates but as many as 81,000 living in Dubai and the northern emirates alone face being made jobless because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Residency in the UAE is tied to employment and the country has seen an exodus of foreign workers in recent months, especially from India and Pakistan, as well as a number of European countries and Australia.
The A380 flight on August 19th will mark the first commercial superjumbo service to have ever landed at Clark International Airport (CRK). Emirates is already flying six times per week to the airport after resuming service with its Boeing 777-300 aircraft earlier this month. The airline is also operating a daily flight to Manila but this still isn’t enough to meet demand.
The decision to operate the double-deck aircraft is in stark contrast to other A380 operators who fear tumbling travel demand means there won’t be a market for the quad-jet aircraft for months if not years to come.
“In addition to marking a milestone and making its debut to Clark, the highly-popular Emirates A380 aircraft will accommodate more travellers on the flight, while allowing them to experience its unique features and safety protocols we have put in place to protect our customers and crew,” explained Emirates’ senior vice president of commercial operations for the Far East, Orhan Abbas.
A small number of Emirates’ A380’s returned to the skies on July 15 after the entire fleet was grounded in late March in response to a strict lockdown in Dubai. The first two destinations for the superjumbo was London Heathrow and Paris, and since then A380 service has been extended to Amsterdam, Cairo, and Guangzhou.
Flights to Toronto on the A380 will resume on August 16.
But Emirates’ regional rival Qatar Airways is less than convinced with the Dubai-based airline’s decision to redeploy its A380’s. “It is not commercially or environmentally justifiable to operate such a large aircraft in the current market,” the airline reaffirmed only yesterday, pointing out that it was not dependent on any one aircraft type.
Emirates is by far the largest A380 operator in the world and the only other aircraft type in its fleet is the Boeing 777. There were fears that Emirates would mothball much of its A380 fleet and the airline’s president Sir Tim Clark even declared that the aircraft “was over”.
Since then, Sir Tim has spoken up the A380’s potential in a post-COVID world, although he has suggested its longterm success is dependent on a vaccine for the novel Coronavirus being found.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.