United Arab Emirates (UAE) hub carrier, Emirates Airline has announced it will retire 26 aircraft from operation in 2016 as it reduces the average age of its fleet. The strategy will still see a net gain of ten aircraft next year, but will see some of its smaller jets leave its fleet as it focuses on network maturity to upgauge capacity in many existing markets to support the change in structure.
Emirates confirms it will retire 26 aircraft next year, including 12 Airbus A330-200s, four A340-300s, one A340-500, six Boeing 777-200ERs, two Boeing 777-300s and one Boeing 777-300ER. In addition, 13 more aircraft will be retired in 2017 and another 13 will be retired in 2018. Balancing its aircraft retirement programme, Emirates will take delivery of 36 new aircraft in 2016, comprising 20 A380s and 16 Boeing 777-300ERs.
“Emirates has a global footprint as the world's largest international airline, and we have a responsibility to our customers, the communities we serve, and the planet. We are fully committed to flying a modern fleet that is better for the environment, and provides our customers with a superior level of comfort and safety,” said Sir Tim Clark, President Emirates Airline.
“With the retirement of older aircraft and the introduction of new, more fuel efficient aircraft in 2016, Emirates will continue to lead the industry in reducing the age of our fleet, while at the same time defining new levels of service that our customers have come to expect," he added.
The total number of aircraft in the Emirates fleet currently stands at 243. This year, the airline received 26 new aircraft, including 15 A380s, ten 777-300ERs and one Boeing 777 Freighter, while a further 263 additional aircraft are on order, worth over US$120 billion at list prices. This includes 71 Airbus A380s, 42 Boeing 777-300ERs, 115 Boeing 777-9Xs and 35 Boeing 777-8Xs.
The strategy will see the retirement of the oldest aircraft from the Emirates fleet and together these 26 aircraft have an average age of 15.7 years. The airline has already scaled-back its A330 and A340 fleets over recent years and 2016 will see the removal of the less-efficient four-engined variant from its network.
The A330 retirements will reduce its fleet of the type to less than ten units at the end of 2016, but could also bring some network issues as the type has historically been used as the entry point into many markets, where capacity is latterly stimulated to larger capacity equipment.
According to OAG schedule data, the A330 is currently scheduled on 30 routes from Dubai during the current winter schedule, mainly serving markets across the Middle East, the Indian sub-continent and into Africa and on routes with multiple daily frequencies. It is also being used to debut new routes including flights to Istanbul Sabiha Gokcen, continuing a successful strategy that Emirates has been using for entering new markets and growing traffic.