2022 will be the year the Airbus A380 returns in strength to Australian skies, with superjumbo stalwart Emirates sending its flagship double-decker jet to Brisbane and Perth while also launching a double-daily A380 schedule between Melbourne and Dubai.
These will complement the Gulf carrier’s existing Sydney-Dubai A380 and signify Emirates’ confidence in the resurgence of international travel some two years after the Covid pandemic first swept the globe, with the airline’s Australian head Barry Brown noting that "the demand for international travel grows by the day."
As previously reported, Qantas is bringing its A380s out of retirement ahead of schedule to take on Sydney-Los Angeles from March and Sydney-London from June.
Melbourne sees its first Emirates A380 in February 1 2022, with a second now scheduled from June 30.
Emirates’ daily Perth flight is now listed to shift from a Boeing 777 to an A380 as of June 17 – some five months after the airline recommences Perth-Dubai flights after WA unlocks its state borders on February 5 – while Brisbane gets the same upgrade from July 1.
Those will both be welcomed by travellers eager to swap that long trek on the older Boeing jets for the quieter and modern A380, especially when it comes to the more spacious business class seats and private first class suites, plus of course that iconic cocktail bar.
At the time of writing, none of these A380s feature Emirates’ new premium economy seats, which would no doubt hold strong appeal on these 11-14 hour flights.
However, those premium economy recliners will be added to 52 of Emirates' flagship Airbus A380s – along with and 53 Boeing 777s – from the end of 2022, so there’s a solid chance they’ll be available to Australian flyers in 2023.
And as for Adelaide, Emirates remains tight-lipped about when it would recommence flights to the City of Churches, saying it "is one amongst many cities where Emirates operations remain suspended due to ongoing impacts related to the COVID-19 pandemic."
"We hope to restart our operations in Adelaide when it is commercially and operationally feasible to do so in the future," a spokesman for the airline tells Executive Traveller.
While Emirates’ lounges in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth remain shuttered, the spokesperson said “Emirates looks forward to reopening our own lounges in line with the continued growing demand for international travel sometime in 2022.”
Emirates counts 123 superjumbos in its globe-striding fleet, and earlier this month took delivery of the last A380 ever to be built, as Airbus ended production of the world’s largest commercial airliner just over 15 years since its inaugural flight.
“It defined us, in many respects,” noted Emirates president Sir Tim Clark. “We’ve spent an inordinate amount on product, both in flight and on the ground, and that’s really paid off.”
And Clark intends to sweat that substantial investment, with the A380s set to still be flying “until the mid ‘30s” as they’re gradually replaced by the next-generation Boeing 777X.
By the end of this decade and the beginning of the next, Emirates' heavy-duty fleet strategy will involve “using the A380s on the trunk routes, barreling through from east to west and north to south... with the 777X gradually slipping in to replace the A380s that eventually retire.”
Additional reporting by Matt Lennon