Emirates reported (09-May-2013) its largest annual increase in capacity in FY2012/13, receiving 34 new aircraft comprising 20 Boeing 777-300ERs, 10 A380s and four 777Fs. The airline raised more than AED28.6 billion (USD7.8 billion) through a variety of financing structures to fund the expansion. The carrier's fuel costs increased 15% year-on-year to AED27.9 billion (USD7.6 billion). The carrier also commenced service to Adelaide, Algiers, Barcelona, Erbil, Ho Chi Minh City, Lisbon, Lyon, Phuket, Warsaw and Washington and shipped more than two million tonnes of cargo during the financial year. Emirates has 198 aircraft worth USD71 billion on order and plans to commence routes to Clark, Tokyo Haneda, Stockholm and Milan-New York service in FY2013/14. Emirates Group chairman and CEO Ahmed Bin Saeed Al Maktoum said, "Throughout the 2012-13 financial year the Group has collectively invested over AED 13.8 billion (USD3.8 billion) in new aircraft, products, services and handling facilities as well as the newly opened JW Marriott Marquis Hotel in Dubai. This investment has resulted in an increased customer base and a rise in global brand awareness. Every dirham that we earn is strategically placed back into our business and it is this tenacious approach that has allowed the Group to maintain such strong and consistent profitability under challenging circumstances." [more - original PR]
Emirates reports largest annual capacity increase in FY2012/13
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Where the A380 flies: Japan and intra-Asia routes decline while Australia & Middle East grow
The A380 is once again under media scrutiny, despite there being no major movement on the type. Comments from Air France and Qantas about not taking further A380s have long been assumed, and it has been apparent that Malaysia Airlines does not even have the need for its A380s. Singapore Airlines not renewing the lease on its first A380 is hardly surprising, and offers no definitive conclusion about the A380 or second-hand market; early A380s had different production and are not as efficient as later models. The lack of movement on the A380neo continues to irk the model's largest customer by far, Emirates, and may not make for a productive relationship as Emirates weighs an A350 or 787 order.
For most, the A380 continues to fly. How and where it flies is changing. Flights to and from the Middle East are becoming more common as Gulf airlines, and mostly Emirates, take delivery of A380s. A further shift to the Middle East is inevitable. In Japan there has been a near exodus of A380s; airlines dropping the type as they moved from Narita to Haneda, which cannot accommodate the A380 during the day, and Singapore Airlines down-gauging. Intra-Asia flying is decreasing – notable given the growth of A380s based in the region. Services by the A380 to Australia are growing, perhaps as it becomes an easy market for airlines to redeploy capacity amid European security concerns and trans-Pacific overcapacity.
Project Hope: Malaysia Airlines outlook hinges on spinning off new high-density A380 charter airline
Malaysia Airlines is planning to set up a new airline to operate its A380 fleet on religious pilgrimage charters to Saudi Arabia. All six of the airline’s A380s will be reconfigured from 386 to up to 700 seats by the end of 2018, and transferred to a new operator's certificate.
Malaysia Airlines is hoping to attract a combination of foreign and local investors to take control of the planned new airline and all six A380s. The group is calling the plan “Project Hope” – an appropriate name given its current predicament with the A380 fleet.
The flag carrier’s A380 operation has been highly unprofitable and the aircraft is too big for operation to London – its only remaining long-haul route. Malaysia Airlines is now committed to acquiring six A350s, which will be used to replace the A380 on London. As selling or subleasing the A380s is not possible given the virtually non-existent demand for the type, establishing a new charter airline is the only sensible option – although still with some risk, given the need to find investors.