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Looking forward

Clark says that as its A380 fleet grows next year, new destinations for the type are likely to include Paris and Seoul and he wants to return to New York - where it inaugurated its A380 operations in 2008 - by June. Tokyo Narita is also a potential future destination.

While there are planned dates for new A380 routes, Clark concedes that these are contingent on Airbus meeting the delivery schedule. "We still have some niggling delays from Toulouse - they're still not stable on the production side."

He meets Airbus chief executive Tom Enders and programmes boss Tom Williams regularly to discuss the delivery schedule, but remains concerned about Airbus's ability to maintain the delivery stream to incumbent customers as "heads of version" come through for new operators such as Air France and Lufthansa.

The Emirates A380s are notable for the fact that they are equipped with a pair of in-flight showers for first-class passengers, which have proved very popular, says Clark, although he concedes he "got the maths wrong" on the amount of water to uplift.

Emirates A380 showers
© Emirates



"We put 2.5t in the aircraft, but we're only using 60% - even with every first-class passenger taking a shower - so we've reduced the potable water we carry," Clark adds.

Because of weight growth during development, initial production A380s are around 5-6t behind the target manufacturer's weight empty (MWE) says Clark. On top of this, the rewiring required for early production aircraft added another 400kg (880lb) to the weight, he claims. However, Airbus is incorporating weight savings into later-build A380s to bring weight back in line with guarantees and Clark expects the gains will ultimately create an aircraft that can serve certain US West Coast destinations direct from Dubai.

WEIGHT REDUCTIONS

He forecasts that A380s being delivered by 2012 will have MWEs "a minimum of 2t lighter" than today's aircraft, which, combined with reductions in the weight of the airline's operator items (a new generation of lighter seats, for example) means "you've got an aircraft that can fly 15h 45min and can do the West Coast". He is "optimistic" that this will bring San Francisco into range, but concedes the A380 will always be challenged to get as far as Los Angeles. "She was never designed for that mission," he says.

The A380's nominal maximum take-off weight is 560t, with an option of 569t (and further growth available from 2012). Clark says that Emirates flies its A380s at between 510t and 540t, as it does not need the full weight and takes the benefit of lower landing fees.

Clark sums up the A380's appeal in raw statistics. "We're busting the seams on the aircraft. We're consistently getting 90-100% load factors - its popularity hasn't dissipated in a year. And if Dubai International airport grows to where we want it, we'll ultimately have more than 58 in our fleet."

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