Airbus A380 number 116 flies into Emirates fleet, this time powered partially by biofuel

The Dubai-based Emirates is the largest operator of the A380, which is the world's largest passenger jet

Airbus A380 number 116 flies into Emirates fleet, this time powered partially by biofuel
Emirates welcomed MSN A6-EVL, its 116th Airbus A380 into its fleet. Image courtesy: Emirates

The Dubai-based Emirates has added its first giant Airbus A380 of 2020 to its fleet. This is the first of the three A380 aircraft to join the Emirates this year and is the 116th such aircraft in the airline's stock. 

The aircraft arrived in Dubai in the early hours of Saturday (December 5) morning, powered by a blend of conventional jet fuel and sustainable aviation fuel," Emirates said.  

The airline, which is one of the biggest in the world, is slated to receive two more such aircraft later this month, one of which would feature the long-awaited Emirates' signature premium economy product. 

The A380 entered the Emirates fleet 12 years ago and since then has been the airline's flagship. Its signature elements include an onboard lounge and shower spa. 

The Airbus A380-800 is the largest passenger jetliner in the world. The Emirates A380 is as long as two blue whales and as tall as five giraffes, according to the Emirates website. It has four million parts and weighs between 510 to 575 tonnes. 

The Airbus A380 serves Emirates well on its high-density, long-haul routes. Image courtesy: Youtube

The Emirates A380 has a seating capacity of 615 on two-class (long-range), 517 on three-class (long-range) and 489 on three-class (ultra-long-range). It has a wingspan of 261 feet and 8 inches, a length of 238 feet and 6 inches and a height of 79 feet and 7 inches. The cabin widths are 21 feet and 7 inches for the main deck and 19 feet and 5 inches for the upper deck. 

The aircraft is powered by Rolls-Royce Trent 900 (A380-841/-842) or the Engine Alliance GP7000 (A380-861) turbofan engines, and have a thrust of 70,000 pounds.

Also read -- Covid-19: How Emirates emerged as world's safest airline 

The A380-800 of the Emirates has a maximum range of 8,000 nautical miles or 15,000 km and cruising speed of 0.85 Mach (around 1,050 kmph). It can cruise at an altitude of up to 43,100 feet.    

Emirates is the largest operator of the A380-800 in the world and seven more, including two this month, are pending delivery. It has a mixed fleet of Airbus and Boeing wide-body planes, including the Airbus A380-800, Boeing 777-300ER and Boeing 777-200LR. It is also the largest operator of the Boeing 777, with 155 such planes in its fleet. It is also the only airline ever to operate all six of the 777 variants introduced into service by the planemaker. 

Emirates was also expected to be the debut partner of Boeing's gigantic 777X -- the world's largest twin-engine plane. However, in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic and the lengthy certification process, Emirates may not receive the 777X before 2022. Currently, it has 115 Boeing 777X on order.

Emirates is among the few global airlines to operate an all-wide-body fleet (excluding the Emirates Executive). The A380-800 serves it well on long-haul, high-density routes. However, Airbus had announced it would stop production of the A380 in 2021 after Emirates cancelled several orders. Emirates also has Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners on order and the first delivery is expected in 2023. It had also ordered 50 Airbus 350-900 jets, which are expected to start arriving in 2023. 

Inside an Emirates A380 business class. Image courtesy: Emirates

"The A380 has been a success story for Emirates, and this is reflected in the strong customer interest wherever we’ve deployed the aircraft over the years. The A380 has helped us efficiently serve customer demand at slot-constrained airports and also on trunk routes, supporting our long-haul hub operations. Importantly, with the space and technology on this aircraft, we’ve been able to introduce new concepts onboard that have transformed the flying experience for the better," said Emirates president Tim Clark. 

"We look forward to introducing our premium economy experience, which will make its debut on an A380 in the coming months, and we will continue to invest in our world-class A380 product experience. The A380 will remain our flagship for the next decade, and we will re-deploy it on more routes as travel demand returns," he added.

Also read -- Boeing 777X: World's largest plane that beats competition hands down

According to Emirates, its A380 currently flies to cities like Cairo, Amman, Paris, London, Guangzhou, Manchester and Moscow, and recently services have been scaled up to four-daily A380s to London-Heathrow and daily flights to Moscow. The versatility of the superjumbo has been demonstrated by its use as a ‘mini-freighter’ on select cargo charter operations. 

Emirates' newest A380 flew to Dubai powered by a blend of jet fuel and sustainable aviation fuel (SAF). This is the first time that Emirates used SAF to power an A380. The biofuel used for the flight was made from used cooking oil in Finland.

"Sustainability remains very much on our agenda at Emirates. We are watching developments in sustainable aviation fuel very closely, and we look forward to a time when it can be produced at scale, and in a cost-competitive manner. Our latest A380 delivery flight was partially powered by sustainable aviation fuel and this is a positive step towards reducing our overall emissions," Clark said. 

A gigantic Emirates A380 in operation. Image courtesy: Twitter/Emirates/Christoph Zamazal 

Recently, the airline was rated as the safest in the world under the Covid-19 situation by the Safe Travel Barometer. The barometer is regarded as the world’s most comprehensive database of Covid-19 health and safety protocols, and traveller experience initiatives announced by suppliers that influence the decision of travellers in the 'new normal' created in the wake of the pandemic. 

Emirates reported losses amounting to $3.4 billion as a result of the coronavirus crisis, which has meant that the airline's holding company is witnessing its first half-year loss in over 30 years, according to a Reuters report.

Owing to global travel bans, the revenue of Emirates shrunk by 75% to $3.2 billion with passenger traffic falling by a mammoth 95% to 1.5 million in the six months to the end of September.

The airline has, however, tapped into its strong cash reserves, and continues to ensure through its "shareholder and broader financial community" that funding doesn't go dry, its chairman Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed al-Maktoum. The airline is also confident of support by the Dubai government.

Emirates expects a return to profitability in the next two years as new travel corridors are opened and the global aviation industry recovers from the worst crisis in its history caused in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, according to a CNBC report.

The UK had recently added the UAE to its travel corridor list, which meant that passengers travelling from the UAE to the UK after November 14 need not self-isolate for 14 days. The UK is a very important market for Emirates and the Dubai to London Heathrow route made up the highest share of departing seats in 2019.  

The airline had to slash around 25% of its staff as a result of the pandemic and the Dubai government had to come up with a $2 billion equity infusion to support the airline's recovery, CNBC reported.  

Also, as the race for a Covid-19 vaccine intensifies across the world, things could slowly return to normal for the global aviation sector.