Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al-Maktoum, chairman and CEO of Emirates and one of the most powerful men in the Middle East aviation industry has thrown his weight behind Airbus employees working on wings for the A380 superjumbo.
Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al-Maktoum has thus far remained ''unshakeable'' in his belief that the A380 is the aircraft that will herald the next chapter of aviation, and consequently, his airline has 58 of them on order, valued at £9.6 billion at current list prices.
The wings for the superjumbo are manufactured at Airbus' West Factory at Broughton, Flintshire. Production at the factory is now being ramped up to fight the backlog of orders created thanks to the numerous delays in assembly that the A380 has seen, on account of which deliveries of the A380 are running around two years behind schedule. Most of these production issues were seen in France and Germany.
However, that has not shaken the belief of the Sheikh Al-Maktoum, who says that despite high oil prices, demand remains strong for Emirates, and with the A380's combination of range, capacity and fuel efficiency, the aircraft will help Emirates to achieve its growth targets. Emirates will get the first of its new A380s in July. (See: Emirates to get its first Airbus A380 in July)
Deployment plans for the A380 include Emirates' routes to New York, London Heathrow, Sydney, and Auckland. The A380, the biggest plane made thus far, has the potential to reform air travel by proving to be the most fuel efficient airliner in terms of fuel burnt per passenger. Having 58 A380's as part of its fleet also increases the airlines ability to notch up the number of passengers it can fly out of increasingly congested hubs such as New York or London Heathrow.
During the current fiscal till March 2009, Emirates will accept delivery of five A380s, each configured for its ultra long-haul 489 seats, of which 14 will be in First Class, 76 in business, and 399 in economy. The plane will have the ability to carry 10 tonnes of cargo in its belly-hold. In its densest seating configuration ordered by Emirates, the A380 will fly 644 passengers, a feat that could redefine aviation records.
With its biggest customer located in the Middle East, Airbus has started a logistics centre in Dubai that will serve the needs of fast-growing Middle East carriers, as well as that of Emirates. Airbus chief executive Tom Enders has confirmed earlier in the week that Abu Dhabi, the capital of United Arab Emirates and second most populous city in the country was a potential site under consideration as a manufacturing base for the next generation of Airbus passenger jets, a move that will undoubtedly take relations between the aircraft manufacturer and some of its most important customers to a completely new level.