"With the A380 as it is today, and as popular as it is today, why would you go back to the 747?" says Emirates Airline president Tim Clark.
The Dubai carrier had been pushing Boeing to develop a version of the 747-8I with the range capability to operate year-round services between its base and Los Angeles with an economic payload of around 370 passengers.
In parallel with Airbus's A380 weight reduction effort, Emirates has been working on its own savings says Clark. "On our own we've already taken out about 2.2t of operator items." This was partly due to a reduction in the potable water carried for the two on-board showers.
Through Airbus's effort, Clark believes that "by 2012 [deliveries] the manufacturer's empty weight of the A380 will be a minimum of 2t lighter on top of our 2.2t". However, he thinks the A380 will "always be challenged" to serve Los Angeles from Dubai.
The airline operates a 266-seat 777-200LR on the Dubai-Los Angeles service, and while Clark rules out the larger -300ER being capable of serving the route with an economic payload, he is awaiting news about the Boeing's plans to develop or replace the 777.
"Boeing knows we're very keen," says Clark, who expects to hold a meeting with the airframer "soon" to discuss ideas that could lead to a 777-300ER-sized aircraft capable of operating the Los Angeles route. "Even if they give us 8-10% [performance gains] by modifying the current 777, then we've got a chance getting that to Los Angeles nonstop," he says.