The prospect of high-flying Emirates using some of its Airbus A380s in a high-density layout to operate what would be medium or long-haul low-cost carrier-style services is enough to send a shudder down the spine of many of its competitors. But it is a thought on the mind of the carrier’s vice-chairman and group president Maurice Flanagan (see left).
Emirates has already stated that it will configure its A380s in three-different layouts to suit different markets, and has studied using the aircraft in a single-class layout too, says Flanagan, building on remarks made by the airline’s president Tim Clark in the April 2005 issue of Airline Business. “It could work,” says Flanagan. “The aircraft offers an interesting set of possibilities. In principle I quite like the idea.”
The carrier has dubbed its internal concept airline Emirates Express, and this would see an A380 with a lot more seats on it than the maximum the airline is planning to date, or another alternative it has considered is setting aside a low-cost area on the aircraft. Its most dense configuration will be a two-class cabin of 644 seats for routes into the Indian subcontinent. Long-haul routes see a three-class A380 with 489 seats, while medium-haul sectors will feature a three-class 530-seat aircraft.