Emirates says it will take delivery of the world's last-ever Airbus A380 in May 2022, by which time it expects to have most of its 122-strong superjumbo fleet back in the air.
That puts the Gulf colossus at odds with most other airlines, which are slashing the size of their A380 fleets or retiring the double-decker jet altogether.
Emirates has picked up the keys to three factory-fresh A380s this month – one of which contains the airline's new "signature premium economy" seats – with "five more to come," Emirates President Sir Tim Clark tells AirlineRatings: "two in 2021 and the last three are due in 2022, two in April, and the final one in May."
Read more: Here is Emirates new premium economy
That May 2022 delivery will mark the end of an era in commercial aviation, with Airbus and Boeing having ended production on their respective A380 and 747 flagships as airlines reset their sights on more fuel-efficient twin-engine jets such as the A350, the Boeing 787 and the much-delayed Boeing 777X.
But Emirates President Sir Tim Clark sees a sharp recovery in demand for air travel next year as coronavirus vaccines are distributed around the world, leading to a release in pent-up demand “across all segments” led by those who haven’t been able to travel during the pandemic.
“I can see demand for travel moving at pace,” Clark remarked last month. “My own view, and it’s always an optimistic view, is by end of next calendar year or the first quarter of 2022 we’ll have all our A380s flying.”
While being realistic about his options for the A380 – "What can we do with them, sell them? No, we can’t," he tells AirlineRatings – Clark remains sanguine on the superjumbo's future.
"I am a firm believer in the ability of this aircraft to meet the demand post-pandemic. It may be accelerated or maybe a bit slower, but can I see our network being restored to its former glory? Of course, I can. Why not?"
"The global economy is enormously resilient, it has taken enormous knocks in the past and it has always bounced back. The difference this time is, there won’t be that many competitors left with wide-body equipment to do what we can do."
Also read: Is this Emirates' new premium economy seat?