Emirates prepares for higher density A380, rethinks 600-seat version

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Emirates is due to receive its first higher-density configured Airbus A380 in November. The aircraft will fly on shorter routes from Dubai to destinations such as London. Meanwhile, earlier plans for a version equipped with more than 600 seats may be revived.

Emirates, which has five A380s in service and will introduce 10 more through to the summer of next year, is still suffering "niggling delays from Toulouse", says the airline's president Tim Clark.

"Our next A380, which arrives in November, will be MSN007, one of the flight-test aircraft," he says. "This will be the first equipped with 517 seats."

emirates a380 main economy cabin
 © Max Kingsley-Jones/Flight International

The airline's first five A380s have a three-class, 489-seat layout, but the next batch will be 517-seaters. The latter version does not include the crew rest compartment on the main deck as it will be flown on sectors of less than 12h, and the freed space provides room for another 28 economy seats.

Meanwhile, Clark says that the plan for a third, higher- density A380 configuration with "roughly 620 seats" in a two-class layout for use on shorter sectors to the Indian subcontinent, has been put on ice. This configuration "was struck out, but now I'm revisiting it", he says.

Emirates is taking two of the five flight-test A380s: MSN007 - which was originally a Rolls-Royce Trent 900-powered version and has been re-engined to Emirates specification with Engine Alliance GP7200s - and MSN009, which was the first GP7200-powered version to fly.