Airline Profile: Emirates – Part 2

By Ankur Deo | May 6, 2020

In the last article, we saw how Emirates, as a successful young airline brand, took shape. As of date, Emirates is the world’s fourth largest airline by revenue from passenger flights, and second largest in terms of freight carried. It is surreal to see that the fledgling airline with a $10mn (Dh36.7 million) startup fund and two leased aircraft has today become such an influential player in global aviation market!

The A340-500 operated in Emirates fleet from 2013-2016. ©Flickr

Turn on any television set around the world, and one is sure to see the presence of Emirates – in Formula One, on referees at the Rugby World Cup, or on the shirts of football and tennis players – a presence so universal and diverse, that shows the marketing and financial prowess, the reach and welfare of the airline. However, marketing presence and strength is one facet. Perhaps, more importantly, Emirates has proven to be a pioneer, and a rather successful one, when it comes to expanding its network and fleet. The numbers are quite outstanding – almost 57 million passengers flew on the carrier last year to 162 cities in 87 countries, with a gargantuan 256 aircraft fleet!

A significant number of aircraft, worth more than $100bn are on Emirates’ order-book too. And hence, the natural question to pop in everyone’s mind is – What is it that Emirates did, that many other airlines failed at? Many aviation experts agree on three common aspects: Smart management, Ability to maintain a modern and young fleet, and savvy marketing.

One of Emirates’ mantra for success in the last decade has been the use of only two aircraft – the Boeing 777 and Airbus A380. Ever since 2016, Emirates has only operated these aircraft, which gives them a unique advantage over the competition. As less diversity is present in the fleet:

  1. Lesser variety of tools, equipment and processes are needed for fleet maintenance,
  2. Cabin crew needs to be trained for only two aircraft types, saving a substantial amount for the airline in simulators, and cost invested in training,
  3. Shuffling of aircraft in afflicting times and networking becomes much easier and flexible (as any one aircraft can easily replace the other, without many logistical changes)

Emirates aircraft parked at Dubai International Airport. ©Flickr

Today, Emirates has the largest fleet of Boeing 777 aircraft with a staggering 148 planes in their fleet, and the largest fleet of the gargantuan Airbus A380 as well, with around 120 aircraft currently operational.

Thanks to their sound management principles and stable, yet supporting economy in the United Arab Emirates, the airline has produced consistent increase in passenger numbers, cargo, revenues and profit since 1998, baring just five years, when either of these decreased. Be it the oil crisis of 1990s, the financial depression of late 2000s or factors like 9/11, Emirates always stood the test of times.

Emirates has the largest A380 fleet. ©Flickr

Recently, the airline has shown interest to diversify its fleet, including orders for the A350-900, the Boeing 777x and the Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner. As times have changed, Emirates has realised that fleet diversity can be a beneficial thing – ironic, since not having the same was the key to Emirates’ successful business model in the past! Given that the 777s and A380s shall still remain in the carrier’s fleet for quite long (considering that Emirates has a relatively young fleet), there soon will be a time when the airline will have five aircraft types in their fleet.

This now gives Emirates the opportunity to efficiently operate the lesser demand long haul routes by utilising the more efficient 787-9s. The A350-900 can be used for moderate distance flights, which are too short for the 777x, but with higher passenger demand than what the 787 can handle! The 777x can gradually replace the A380 as the jumbo starts ageing.

Lately however, with the COVID-19 pandemic, Emirates has grounded all their fleet. However, considering the government backup, the hugely successful years that the company has had, Emirates is unlikely to suffer any significant damages. With proceeding time, this airline has known nothing but progress and resilience, and one can be sure, that won’t change post the lockdown too!

Have you ever travelled on Emirates? How was your travel experience? Let us know in the comments!

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