While several major network carriers are making major adjustments to their operations to cope with falling demand, Emirates will continue its capacity growth in 2009.
The Dubai-based carrier says it will add 18 new passenger aircraft in its 2009-10 fiscal year, which ends on 31 March 2010, including seven more Airbus A380s, 10 Boeing 777-300ERs, one 777-200LR and one 777 Freighter. Emirates' seating capacity will grow by 14%, while its cargo capacity is expanding by 17%.
In contrast, Singapore Airlines is removing aircraft and trimming its fleet and network, while Air France is deferring longer-term deliveries of six Airbus and Boeing aircraft. SIA, which suffered a sharp drop in demand during January, has increased the number of aircraft it is decommissioning in its financial year starting 1 April from four to 17, which amounts to an 11% reduction in capacity.
It suffered a 6.9% decline in revenue-passenger-kilometres in January, while its passenger numbers dropped by 10.4%.
Its cutbacks comprise frequency reductions across its network or downsizing of aircraft, for example 777-300ERs are replacing Boeing 747-400s on some services such as to San Francisco (via Hong Kong) and London Heathrow.
"The drop in demand owing to the global economic slowdown is the driver of the reduction in capacity," says the airline. It adds that it "will continue to monitor demand patterns and will make changes to its network when necessary".
Air France is deferring longer-term deliveries of up to six passenger and freighter aircraft as it seeks to temper the effects of its recently announced third-quarter operating loss.
The airline is vague about the aircraft and delivery schedules affected, although included in the mix are 777-300ERs, 777 Freighters and unspecified Airbus aircraft.
Air France says it is still due to receive the first of its 12 delayed A380s "at the end of the year".
Meanwhile Australian carrier Virgin Blue is grounding about 8% of its domestic fleet and may retrench staff in the face of deteriorating demand. This means up to five aircraft will be grounded. According to Flight's ACAS database, the airline has a domestic fleet of 50 Boeing 737-700/800s and 18 Embraer E-Jets.