A non-PR photo inside the main cabin of an Emirates 777: Wiki Commons

Emirates has ‘squashed’ concerns that it was going to jam pack its regular economy class flyers in its fleet of A380s into new tight pack 11 across seating.

Reports from the sidelines at the IATA conference in Doha quote Emirates president Tim Clark as saying its not on.

Unfortunately, no-one seems to have asked whether this meant it might give up its tight pack 10 across seating in its Boeing 777s, which is ergonomically precisely what happens to the human frame in an 11 across A380, which fortunately, no one has actually done as yet inside the cabins of the giant Airbus.

In the Emirates universe sitting in one of its A380s in its mercifully retained 10 across cabins is as comfortable as a 777 would be nine across. If you want to fly in a 777 without clenching your gluteous maximus into the minimus configuration you have to fly on someone with more generous attitudes to the human rear for long haul flying such as Cathay Pacific or Virgin Australia.

This may mean that Emirates, as the largest buyer and operator of both A380s and 777s will continue to be a two gauge carrier at the higher capacity end of its fleet.  It will also become the second largest operator of the Airbus A350 later in this decade, and has not so far revealed its intentions for that jet as siding with harmony and light (as per the Airbus brochures) or what is usually described as ‘economical optimisation of the asset’ by airlines when they are talking to shareholders and analysts rather than about the customer experience.

But fear not, if you are in Australia, since by the end of the decade Emirates on traffic growth figures looks like converting all of its remaining 777 services to A380s, especially so in Sydney, where the option of adding to the number of flights is unlikely to be available.

Emirates has 48 A380s in services as of this morning, rising to 50 any day soon, which would leave 90 on order. It also flies 126 assorted Boeing 777s, most of them the largest current model the -300ER, but has a total of 207 more 777s on order including 150 of the 777-X series with folding wing tips for delivery from late 2021.

These figures include substantial numbers of each type of airliner that will be replacements for those that are getting old by Emirates standards, so we aren’t talking about it ever having 140 A380s or 333 Boeing 777s in service at any one time.

No-one knows the merits of the A380 and 777 families better than Emirates which is the largest operator and buyer of each type, and the comments Mr Clark makes in this Reuters report about the increasingly likely upgrading of A380 engines are intriguing.

In short, the A380 would continue to be the best performer for its range/payload combination in the coming decade even if it kept the engine technology it currently uses, in so far as Emirates is concerned.  But, to paraphrase, it would ‘be nice’ if Airbus were to bring the A380 up to the same engine technology level as will be installed on Emirates X-series 777s from late 2021 or whenever they turn up.

The smart money would have to be on Airbus deciding to ‘be nice’.

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