Rumor: Emirates To Retire 46 A380s, Lay Off 30% Of Staff

Filed Under: Emirates

I had heard this rumor yesterday from two separate sources, but wasn’t initially going to write about it, because I couldn’t 100% vouch for the accuracy of it. Now Paddle Your Own Kanoo notes similar information from several sources.

For now I’d mark this as a rumor, though all of this does make a lot of sense in light of the current situation

Emirates considering retiring 46 Airbus A380s

Emirates is the one airline that has had great success with the A380, as the airline has almost as many A380s as all other airlines combined. Emirates has a total of 115 A380s in their fleet, with a further eight on order (these are the last A380s in the world on order, as Airbus is expected to end A380 production in 2021).

The iconic Emirates A380

Now sources suggest that Emirates may be planning to permanently retire 46 Airbus A380s, which represents exactly 40% of Emirates’ existing A380 fleet.

In a recent interview, Emirates President Tim Clark declared that the A380 is “over,” and also said that he expects that the industry would be 20-30% smaller even after recovery.

Emirates’ current fleet consists of a total of 257 planes, including 777s and A380s. With reduced demand it makes sense that Emirates would be looking to retire A380s first, given how high capacity they are. Purely in terms of the number of frames, retiring 46 A380s would represent ~18% of the overall fleet (but closer to 25-30% in terms of available seats).

For what it’s worth, Emirates’ pre-COVID-19 A380 plans saw the airline flying the A380 through the mid-2030s, with all A380s being kept for 10-15 years.

92 onboard showers may never fly again

What does this mean for Emirates’ future deliveries?

It’s worth looking at Emirates’ broader fleet plans. The airline clearly plans to shrink in the next few years due to reduced demand, but what exactly will that look like?

Emirates has 787-9s on order

The A350 and 787 orders are far enough in the future so that it probably doesn’t pose a major issue for Emirates. The big question revolves around the remaining A380 orders, as well as the huge 777-9 order:

  • Since Emirates is the only remaining A380 customer, could Emirates and Airbus reach a deal whereby they just call off the remaining deliveries? I would have to imagine that they can work out something mutually beneficial, whether that comes in the form of a cancellation payment, an order swap, or something else.
  • The 777-9 is the other big question, because the airplane couldn’t be entering service at a worse time. With other airlines trying to find a way to get out of their 777-9 obligations, could we somehow see production of the plane delayed to reflect market conditons?

Emirates has A350-900s on order

Emirates to lay off 30% of cabin crew and pilots

While exact details are still being worked out, Emirates is apparently planning to cut about 30% of cabin crew and pilot positions.

When it comes to laying off cabin crew, Emirates is apparently considering layoffs based on the following factors:

  • Cabin crew 60 years of age or older
  • Cabin crew with active disciplinary issues
  • Cabin crew with poor performance records
  • Cabin crew with high sickness levels

Frankly that seems like a fairer system than what Qatar Airways is using, where they’re planning on laying off anyone who has been at the airline for over 15 years (which would include many employees in their 30s).

Emirates is basing it largely on performance and reliability. While I don’t love the idea of laying off those over 60, I also understand the logic somewhat — realistically they’d be retiring within a few years, and the airline wants to minimize retirements as demand recovers. Furthermore, Emirates has very few cabin crew in their 60s.

The source I heard from wasn’t sure what criteria would be used to lay off pilots.

Emirates may lay off 30% of cabin crew

Bottom line

It’s a scary time for the industry, and frankly it makes perfect sense for Emirates to retire 46 A380s, given the lack of demand they’re anticipating in the next few years. The A380 is a fantastic plane for Emirates when international travel is booming, but is hard to fill during tougher times.

Unfortunately as you’d expect, retiring 46 A380s would also mean laying off a lot of cabin crew.

The next big question revolves around what happens to Emirates’ eight remaining A380 orders, as well as the massive 777-9 order.

  1. Ooooh, they’re about to flood the secondhand aircraft market. What about their other long-haul workhorse, the 777-300ER? How many of the 132 (131 because of the incident not too long ago?) are they planning to retire? I imagine most will be stripped for parts, because let’s be real who wants to charter wide-body jets these days?

  2. Unfortunately, this is not surprising. Aviation Industry will never be the same after all the havoc COVID-19 has created. I mean, come on, remember when in December 2019, you could bravely step onboard a full-flight and have no fear of catching a virus? People are gonna be afraid of catching the virus on planes, at least until 2026-2030. And when all the travel restrictions are lifted, we could be seeing passengers freaking out and even getting into a nasty fight with passengers who would have done nothing but cough or sneeze. Emirates is an airline known for its amazing ICE Live TV and one of the airlines to introduce wifi onboard planes. I still remember, back in 2015, you could get 10MB of free data and pay a dollar more to get 500MB of data. Gone are the golden days! In 2010-2011, Emirates even used to provide legit Hot or Cold towel choices and pre-packaged lemon juices before departure to all it’s ECONOMY PASSENGERS! (Some airlines don’t even border to give out hot towels in J Class!). Well, I guess it will also be a short while until Emirates decides to stop with their Complimentary Chauffeur Service. On a positive note, to increase tourism demand, we could even see Qatar Airways and Emirates provide even more exciting deals for checking out Doha or Dubai, while on a stopover. We could see Emirates collaborating more with FlyDubai to cope with the reduced demand for some destinations, because in May 2019, when I was flying to Muscat and transitting in Dubai World Central (DWC), Dubai’s future SuperAirport, I saw over 50-60 A380s and 777s parked as if they were toy planes! Given the reduced demand for atleast 3-4 years, and Emirates not having fleet flexibility (like Qatar Airways and Etihad which has a wide range of fleet from A320s to 777s to A380s), FlyDubai 737s would really be catering to more destinations on behalf of EK.

  3. All of the remaining emirates A380s are in some form of production already.

    They aren’t magically assembled the day before delivery. It’s a multi year process…

    So unless Airbus is just going to just throw them in the river, half built, Emirates is taking all of them.

  4. I think it’s a bit off to compare the 777X to the A380 in all honesty. It’s sits about 120-125 passengers less – STCs words. But let’s even forget passengers because there’s really no one flying that much for any wide body anyway. But the 777X has excellent cargo capabilities. The A380 has proven to be absolutely useless in this period. Zero use of it. It can’t carry passengers neither can it carry cargo. The 777X will only cargo at a profit at the right price the 77W already does that for airlines like BA. So to compare the two is just a bit off. You might as well compare the 77W to the A380 at once. Just because they’re the biggest of both carriers does not make them the same class in anyway. The 380 will be useless for a very very long time which is why this is probably true.

    So my own thinking is even if passenger numbers are low AT WORST they can move serious cargo and make some cash. LH confirmed today that indeed there is the opportunity to move 777x orders to cargo but no decision has been made and no decision will be made for a very long time. I think airlines are gauging to see what performance figures Boeing gives them. Initially I thought the 777X will be first out the door. Even with CX and the -10 story they hadn’t even gone to Boeing about it apparently. It was just being considered in-house. I don’t know for sure. But my point is to class the 777X in the same fate as the A380 is off. You might as well throw in the 77W in there as well

  5. If one has flown the 380 you know the bathroom is cleaned after each use, can you now imagine the cleaning protocol in todays world? And EK reduced the attendant number from 2 to 1 per flight! All kidding aside its time to park those pigs in favor of the newer much more efficient planes. The sad part we now face is the large reduction in workforce much like many parts of the world economy “redundancy” being the politically correct adjustments being made. I think we will see an average of 10% across the board reduction some industries as much as 15% reduction, all dependent on how the economy returns and which areas increase greater than other.

    With the current population growth it required more attention to food supply/sanitation efforts to far greater than they are now.

  6. This was always inevitable. Emirates history is a retread of Pan Am history. After the National merger – cough cough, excuse me, closer tie-up with Flydubai… and then the A300 – sorry, 787 order… we’re now officially at Lockerbie or later in historical parallels.

    Even if they drop all A380s and cancel the 777X to downsize, that’s still potentially too much metal incoming. But I expect they’ll pull through, and my third eye sees Lucky showering on an Emirates 787 in 5 years 😛

  7. This is fake news, propaganda I should say, that came from Doha – a simple Google search shows this. Really disappointed to see this posted.

  8. The golden age of luxury air travel is over. Services and human interactions will be reduced to a bare minimum across all industries. Gone are the days of sumptuous meals, special vintages, and millennials taking selfies in EK’s lavatories. Say hello to prepacked, sterile, bland food. So sad.

  9. Official response from The Dubai government:

    Emirates spokesperson: “No announcement has been made regarding mass redundancies at the airline. Any such decision will be communicated in an appropriate fashion. Like any responsible business would do, our executive team has directed all departments to conduct a thorough review of costs and resourcing against business projections, even as we prepare for gradual service resumption. As our Chairman has said, conserving cash, safeguarding our business, and preserving as much of as our skilled workforce as possible, remain our top priorities through this period.”

  10. @Ahmed Alhilou
    Unfortunately it’s all over the news, how must the employees feel, to read all these rumours in such uncertain times. It’s one thing if Emirates officially and properly announces redundancies themselves, another if rumours are spread through external sites or blogs, citing “sources” for pure click bait.

    Very disappointed that such rumours which affect the lifes of many are posted by Omaat. Lucky, you should know better!

  11. The end of the a380. But why use Emirates rather than go direct, if it is the same windowless, narrow 787?

    Might as well go with a local carrier, if no bars and showers to make up for the hassle of connecting.

  12. @Ben

    A sidetrack: do you have any info on what’s going on at Airbus and Boeing in terms of layoffs and cancelled orders?

  13. How sad. As someone who works in the airline industry this is heartbreaking. Airlines that make most of their flying with international are going to be devastated. We are going to have a rough time in the Us, but our domestic network is so extensive and without restrictions I think we will come out okay – smaller and layoffs – but ok for the future. How do you even come back as a purely international airline when borders are closed for the foreseeable future and business travel is next to none?

  14. Emirates is the Pan AM of the 21st century. Like Pan Am went and built the 747 without a true business case, Emirates went for the A380 in similar fashion. The money is drying up in the UAE and people can’t fly with showers and lounges anymore (sound familiar). It’s 1975 all over again!

    I have said all along that Emirates the Eithad are not real businesses but play things for a few rich Arabs. I also said, if a tragic event takes places and the economy is rocked, these two airlines (Qatar too, but they pretend to lose money), will be shells of their former selves. So Emirate will need to dump all the A380’s and cancel A350s on order, delay the 777X and take some 787 (they are better size for the airlines) and become an all Boeing airline but a much smaller one (maybe 100- 125 planes). Countries are going to have gateways again and the cost of international travel is about to skyrocket. Plus most people we need years to recover their wealth, payoff debts, etc. . .

    The world is changing fast now, so Emirates will be much smaller and Eithad is done.

  15. Sunviking
    You are very wrong most poorly comment
    Where’s your source,
    Are you the professionals running those business employing thousands?
    No offense you wouldn’t be a great CEO!
    Etihad is not done, the Abu Dhabi government is very rich and won’t let etihad go down without a fight.Emirates do have business case, Full A380s
    Good amount of cargo using busy airports with good profits

  16. @Sabine
    Anyone working for an airline or airport right now must be expecting massive redundancies, or even bankruptcy, wouldn’t you think? It’s vile for them (and horrible to watch) — but I don’t think reporting some general rumours will add much to their misery.

    Most people haven’t read enough Dilbert. The manager reports to the weekly team meeting that, despite the company saying for years that staff were its must important asset, a new study has shown that, in fact, *money* is the company’s most important asset, and staff are just 9th.

    After a brief hush, someone asks the manager what came in at 8th? He checks his notes, and replies “carbon paper”.

    While the younger people here may not know exactly what that is (why should you?), I’m sure you get the idea. Big companies have never cared about their staff. While they have a personality for legal purposes, if they were human then big companies would be classed as sociopaths.

  17. ”Since Emirates is the only remaining A380 customer, could Emirates and Airbus reach a deal whereby they just call off the remaining deliveries? I would have to imagine that they can work out something mutually beneficial, whether that comes in the form of a cancellation payment, an order swap, or something else.”
    I believe the last ever major a380 parts (wings, tail, etc) have already been produced and shipped to Toulouse, so I think it’s a little too late now to cancel. I wonder, in order to save costs, if they strip the interiors of some of the a380s they’re retiring and refit them on the ones to be delivered…

  18. @ghostrider5408: right on – the 388 is a pig and only exists today because of the massive European taxpayer funded subsidies. It was conceived using a deeply flawed premise (major hubs would continue to dominate, while ignoring the growth potential of point to point flying).
    Why wouldn’t EK get the 77X ? Half the trip cost of a 388 with better seat costs (mind you the 789 and 359 probably have even lower trip costs but only equal seat costs). Bottom line: if you can fill all seats at a premium yield, the 388 is indeed very profitable. Thats so not happening for the foreseeable future though as Sir Tim has realised when he proclaimed the 380 was dead.

  19. My goodness if US airlines took this list they’d have no one left, especially for flight attendant’s over 60! LOL

  20. @the nice Paul; if you (correctly) categorise big businesses as sociopaths, I would push that analogy further and consider some big governments psychopaths (or at least the Presidents running them).

  21. @Srihari did you pull those dates of 2026 to 2030 from your a$€? I’m sure it’s based on “science”?

  22. Emirates getting rid of cabin crew over 60 ? Seriously how many would that be 1 – The carrier hasn’t been around that long and they never recruit anything but Gen y’s usually blonde women and men who are generally young and of a middle eastern background to “supervise “ the women !!!

  23. Why is everyone surprised? And Why are some blaming Lucky for posting this and saying fake news? It’s all over Bloomberg and they don’t post till they know. Look at the pandemic stuff – Bloomberg says Emirates cancelling all flights 3rd week of March and Emirates says “fake news” and everyone cries afoul “not true” and boom 5 days later Emirates cancels all flights. Read between the lines – Emirates media team are not denying the cuts – the numbers of layoffs might be less or more but it’s happening. Emirates have already been paying their staff in some form or another to stay home. This isn’t the bashing of Emirates – this is the reality. Any company would lay off staff if they are not making money and will not do so in the near future. Emirates at 3600 flights a week – no barely 20 a week. Why the F will they keep planes, staff etc??? It’s not en effing charity organization – it’s a bloody business. And on a side note there is a lot of chatter about financial support from Abu Dhabi – that is also not a rumour. It will happen – if it happened in 2008 – it 200% will happen in covid – a far deeper time than ever before

  24. The statement about them firing employees over 60 doesn’t make sense, because the UAE has a mandatory expat retirement age of 60.
    And when it comes to flight attendants the vast majority will be younger than 50.

  25. @Endre…. ” the golden age of air travel is over” … Ah actually it was over 40 years ago. The day Freddie Laker started with Laker or Skytrain airline, the original low cost . Soon after that the major big boys started to cut back service in economy and crammed in seats as well as passengers now boarding in shorts and feet in sock-less sandals ( often smelly) etc etc. The age of golden air travel died in the late seventies!

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