Engine makers let Airbus down says Emirates chief

November 30, 2020
Emirates' President Tim Clark. Photo: Geoffrey Thomas.

Emirates chief Sir Tim Clark says Airbus super salesman John Leahy is correct in his claim that engine makers let Airbus down on the A380.

Last week former Airbus Chief Operating Officer Commercial Mr. Leahy, in a global first, told AirlineRatings.com European Editor Andreas Spaeth that engine makers had let Airbus down with engine technology on the A380.

Mr. Leahy said last week that the engine makers “were assuring us that the specific fuel consumption was that of new generation engines, and it would be ten years before there was the next leap to a substantial improvement. We launched in 2000, but three years later we got the 787 being launched with GENx engines and Rolls Royce matching that, having a ten to 12 percent better specific fuel consumption than the A380’s engines. Can you imagine the success of the A380 if it had 12 percent better fuel burn than it actually had?”

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In an exclusive interview with AirlineRatings.com, Mr. Clark said “what the hell were the engine manufacturers doing? They were messing with derivative engines for the A380 – not new technology. I think they were overworked at the time and too busy to focus on something new.”

“John must really have suffered badly. It’s great to learn what really went on behind the scenes,” Mr. Clark said.

Emirates takes its 100th A380 in 2017. HH Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al-Maktoum, Emirates’ Chairman and Chief Executive officiated the ceremony; joined by Tom Enders, Airbus Chief Executive Officer; Sir Tim Clark, President Emirates Airline; Fabrice Brégier, Chief Operating Officer of Airbus and President Airbus Commercial Aircraft; H.E. Ali Al Ahmed, UAE Ambassador to Germany; Adel Al Redha, Executive Vice President and Chief Operations Officer; and John Leahy, Chief Operating Officer – Customers – Commercial Aircraft.

And the Emirates chief agreed with many of Mr. Leahy’s other claims on design problems, quality issues, and Airbus pricing that stymied the success of the A380.

Mr. Clark who visited the A380 production line many times agreed that he did get upset about the quality issues, which impacted reliability in the early days.

Last year Mr. Clark said that while the A380 has a dispatch reliability of 99.5 percent in the early days its was just 90 percent.

Mr. Leahy said that he could “remember more than a few very unpleasant meetings with Tim Clark. He would go through the roof. But even he stayed on and eventually bought many more airplanes.”

In fact, Mr. Clark has been the A380s greatest supporter and has blamed airlines for using the giant jet incorrectly.

In an interview in November last year with AirlineRatings.com European Editor Andreas Spaeth, Mr. Clark slammed Air France and Lufthansa for their fit-out of the A380. “The whole approach to the A380 at Air France and Lufthansa was ‘just more of the same.’ They lost the opportunity to really define it.”

AirlneRatings European editor Andreas Spaeth with Emirates president Tim Clark.