Emirates Airlines announced on April 4th 2014 that Dallas / Fort Worth International would become the 28th destination it serves from its Dubai global hub with an A380, replacing a 777-200LR which had operated the direct flight since the route opened in 2012. The new daily flights which are set to begin October 1st, 2014 would also make Dallas / Fort Worth the carrier’s 3rd A380 destination in the US after New York and Los Angeles.
Emirates Airline has grown a sustainable long haul global airline in a relatively short amount of time building a dense network of currently 130 global destinations it can conveniently serve from its global hub in Dubai International (DXB) due to its geographic positioning at 8 hours flying time from most major world destinations (connecting 2/3 of world’s population). At the heart of this deliberate strategy lies a fleet which is exclusively composed of wide body aircraft, whose backbone is now formed by about 130 Boeing 777. The growing scale of the A380 fleet of which it currently operate 47 aircraft (and plans to deploy as many as 96) has been deliberately set in rhythm to increase market share at airports where additional slots may not be readily available. For instance on the New York/JFK – Dubai route, without the giant double decker, the carrier would have otherwise been forced to seek enough slots to carry out three or four flights per day. The same need has rapidly evolved at the carrier’s Dubai home base where the operation of the world’s largest 777 fleet coupled with a high portion of passengers connecting undoubtedly dictated a fleet ratio requirement somewhere near 1 A380 for every 3 Boeing 777.
The traffic numbers need to support this trend. For the year 2013, Dubai airport passenger traffic grew 15.3% to 66.5 million passengers at a relatively contained 7.5% increase in aircraft movement rate. the average number of passenger per aircraft was 198 in 2013 growing 4.5% from 189 the previous year. There were 9,514 Emirates A380 flights in 2013 to about 26 destinations. Finally, that airport is expecting passenger traffic to rise to 78.4 million in 2015 and reach 103.5 million by 2020, from 47 million in 2010. The model is proving sustainable, suggesting articulating steady passenger growth around bigger aircraft instead of additional flights.
Two Emirates A380 configurations: Long Range vs Ultra Long Range versions
Emirates identifies two different configurations for the A380 it operates. The carrier differentiates the Long Range A380 version from the Ultra Long Range A380 as offering respectively 517 and 489 seats both in 3 classes of service. The lower number of seats inside the Ultra Long Range configuration corresponds to the removal of several center rows of seats mainly at the rear end of the aircraft’s main deck. The resulting difference in weight saving can add up to more than 3 tonnes of additional fuel for the Ultra Long Range, in comparison to the Long Range version. Accordingly Emirates normally use the Long Range on regional high density routes to Saudi Arabia, India etc.
The 777-200LR which had previously operated the route since its opening in 2012 was configured with a 3-Class 266 seating capacity while flight duration on the US bound leg had averaged 15 1/2 hours, and 14 hours for the return trip.
At Dallas / Fort Worth, the A380 will operate on the recently-expanded Terminal D which is now also being upgraded with a second level jet bridge, in addition to ramps and taxiways enhancements being undertaken to smooth out the giant aircraft maneuvering. To date the largest passenger aircraft to serve Dallas Fort Worth had been 747-400 mainly from British Airways and Qantas.