LONDON – With Dubai World Central (DWC) set to be one of the largest airports in the world upon completion, we ask the following: Will it provide further longevity to the Airbus A380?
As we all know, Emirates is the largest operator of the superjumbo, but with the return of A380s from other customers, will the original plans from DWC make this work?
Without further ado, let’s get into this deep dive:
The DWC Expansion Plan…
The expansion plan to Al Maktoum International Airport, known as Dubai World Central, will see in total:
- Six runways.
- Three passenger terminals – One to be dedicated to Emirates and the A380.
- Multiple concourses.
By 2027, when the construction is expected to be completed, the airport will handle between 160-260 million passengers per year.
On the cargo front, Dubai World Central is expected to handle over 12 million tonnes of freight per year as well.
This would be a major uplift from Dubai International Airport, which is operating at full capacity at present.
Dubai World Central will be a major upgrade in infrastructure for Emirates, especially as the airline plans to grow its fleet over the rest of this decade.
The Resurgence of the A380 Post-COVID…
As we have come out of the pandemic, and demand has strengthened, there has been a need for huge widebodies such as the A380.
We have seen the likes of Emirates reintroduce the aircraft back into the route network over the last 12 months, with other carriers such as Lufthansa following suit.
Dubai World Central would have welcomed such a resurgence at the time, but an interview with the airport from Simple Flying back in 2019 could suggest otherwise:
“The model when we were talking before was around A380s, and that’s gone. It’s not my decision.”
“I cannot build it for something I know it is not going [to get]… I have to change the model, the gates, the building size”.
A380s Don’t Last That Long?
With that interview from Simple Flying in mind, this would have caused the airport to change its strategy surrounding infrastructure at the airport.
There are a few points towards this.
First off, we have an average age of A380 retirements. In the 8-10 year mark, this has been relatively low, with some airlines already retiring the type from their fleet.
For example, Malaysia Airlines has already initiated the process of retirement for their A380s. It’s unclear whether this is permanent at this stage.
Emirates has retired some of its older A380s already, such as A6-EDA, of which Emirates signed a recycling deal with Falcon Aircraft Recycling back in November 2021.
A6-EDA was 14.2 years old at the time of scrapping, which is quite an old age for an A380. If Emirates can keep up that average, then Dubai World Central may still keep such infrastructure to support this type.
AviationSource approached Emirates for a comment on the longevity of their A380s and whether they will keep any longer than 15 years. They declined to comment.
Emirates’ Own Plans for Fleet Expansion…
Another area of the strategy is down to Emirates’ fleet renewal and expansion plans.
The airline has ordered Airbus A350s, Boeing 777Xs, and more, which will join the fleet by the end of this decade.
This will ultimately mean that the utilization of Dubai World Central will differ from the Emirates perspective, as not as much heavy infrastructure would be needed to handle those aircraft.
Instead, just normal and conventional equipment would need to be used, although the 777X may be an exception to the rule due to the longer wingspan.
Either way, there is going to be some form of a change in strategy, that’s for sure.
AviationSource also approached Emirates about their potential change in strategy when it comes to their fleet and Dubai World Central. They declined to comment on this also.
A380 Longevity Is All Down to Customer Preference…
For Dubai World Central, adding the needed infrastructure for the fleet of A380s is all down to how long Emirates wishes to keep the aircraft.
With its big plans in place, there is reasoning to suggest that DWC will provide greater longevity to Emirates’ A380s, especially if the infrastructure is agreed upon and in place.
However, with new aircraft such as the 777X joining the Emirates-based fold, there may be a need for that infrastructure regardless.
That’s the key to flexibility. Dubai World Central is very much best placed for success, regardless of the aircraft type.