United Arab Emirates (UAE) carrier, Emirates has announced it is to introduce a new high-density version of its Airbus A380 into operation later this year and will initially deploy the aircraft on two routes to Europe. The new 615-seat, two-class configuration joins five varying capacity three-class offerings currently available on the airline’s fleet of Airbus A380s.
The airline will do away with its First Class cabin and showers onboard an unspecified number of new Super Jumbos it has on order to boost its capacity offering. The new arrangement will initially debut in the final quarter and will enter service from December 1, 2015 on the Dubai – Copenhagen route, a market currently served on a daily basis by a Boeing 777-300ER.
The launch of Emirates’ A380 to Copenhagen comes almost four years after the airline first linked the Danish capital with Dubai. Since its launch in August 2011, nearly eight hundred thousand passengers have travelled with Emirates on the Copenhagen-Dubai route.
“After launching the route with an A330, we witnessed growing demand for flights to and from Copenhagen, forcing us to deploy the larger 777 after only six months. Today, based on strong load factors, we are happy to further up-gauge the route to our iconic double-decker, the A380,” said Sir Tim Clark, president, Emirates Airline.
The two-class configured A380 features 58 flat-bed seats in Business Class, 557 seats in Economy Class. The Danish capital will be the first in Scandinavia to boast a scheduled A380 service. Emirates will offer a total of 8,610 seats a week between Copenhagen and Dubai through this network change.
"We made significant investments to expand Copenhagen Airport and upgrade its facilities in order to make it A380-compatible. We are very excited about Emirates’ decision to deploy an A380, the world’s largest passenger aircraft, to our airport," said Thomas Woldbye, chief executive officer, Copenhagen Airports.
In January 2014, Copenhagen Airports presented its growth plan – Expanding CPH – a detailed vision for gradually expanding the airport over the coming two or three decades to enable it to handle 40 million passengers annually. In 2014, Copenhagen Airport reached an all-time high of 25 million passengers.
"In connection with Expanding CPH, we are working extensively with 'intelligent solutions' that are to ensure that we get the most for the money we invest. That also includes investing to upgrade the airport so we can take even the biggest aircraft. For example, we will expand the runway in connection with a long-planned renovation," said Woldbye.
In the next few months, one of the airport's two main runways will be renovated, and in that connection Copenhagen Airport will widen the currently 3.3 kilometre-long runway 04R/22L by four metres on each side. This is necessary as, with its wingspan, the Airbus A380 aircraft requires a runway wider than the standard 45 metres.
The airport is currently also making a major expansion of its Pier C, where the largest aircraft are parked. This expansion includes the installation of two jet bridges at one of the gates, which is a requirement for handling an Airbus A380. The total cost of the Pier C project and the renovation of the runway will be in excess of DKK 300 million.
According to Woldbye, the preparation for Airbus A380 accounts for a small fraction of this amount. However, he noted the investment to support the aircraft will being value to the city and country’s economy. "The additional capacity will help stimulate trade and tourism between Denmark and countries in the Middle East, Asia and Africa," concluded Woldbye.
The new 615-seat A380 is also expected to be deployed on Emirates’ route between Dubai and London Gatwick from the start of 2016. The airline has used the A380 on one of its three daily flights since March 2014 but started to use the aircraft on a second daily rotation since the start of this month. This is initially a temporary measure but the aircraft will be permanently rostered on the second daily rotation from June 1, 2015.
This flight is currently due to be operated by a three-class 489-seat A380, but from January 1, 2016 the Emirates inventory is only showing reservation availability for Business and Economy class travel suggesting the deployment of the new 615-seat two-class configured aircraft.