The chief of the world’s largest airline has criticised airlines for not buying more A380 super jumbos as Airbus hints at closing the production line down in 2018.
Responding to a Bloomberg report whereby Airbus CFO, Harald Wilhelm, told investors in London on Wednesday that Airbus is considering closing the A380 line because of a lack of orders, Emirates President Tim Clark warned that with air travel due to double in the next ten years to 7 billion passengers, airlines and airports will need giant jets like the 517 seat A380.
“The A380 is a passenger magnet. We operate five a day from Dubai to London’s Heathrow and they are 95 per cent full,” Mr Clark told Airlineratings.com in an exclusive interview.
“Airlines are too conservative and have not put the right interiors into their A380s. Some of the interiors are a disgrace and use 1970s thinking,” said Mr Clark.
“We put all our premium seats on the upper deck and economy on the main deck, but others have mixed them which is inefficient. Our competitors laughed at us when we put showers and a lounge in the A380. But passengers love the showers and they love the lounge.”
“The A380 is a great aircraft. If airlines don’t believe they can fill an A380 then their business model is wrong,” said Mr Clark.
“If they can’t fill it there is something wrong with their marketing.”
Emirates has 55 A380s in service with orders for a further 85. However sales to other airlines have almost dried up.
Airbus is considering an upgrade of the A380, dubbed the A380neo, with new engines and aerodynamic improvements.
Mr Clark said the new model, if built, will have excellent economics, as good as the Boeing 777X that Boeing will introduce in 2018. “And we will buy 140 of the A380neos” said Mr Clark.
“As long as I am around I am going to continue to fight the battle for the A380. This is a great aircraft and the world needs it.”
And not unsurprisingly Airbus Chief Operating Officer Customers John Leahy agrees.
”Some airlines are quicker to realise the huge productivity benefits of the A380, and they are reaping the rewards today,” said Mr Leahy. “There’s no doubt the A380 is already a magnet for the flying public.”