Airbus could decide on A380neo within six month: Emirates’ Tim Clark

Airbus could decide within the next six months whether to re-engine the A380 with Rolls-Royce powerplants, says Tim Clark, the president of Emirate Airlines, which has ordered more of the giant airplanes than any other customer.

Tim Clark, president of Emirates Airlines. Emirates Airlines photo.

Clark, speaking to a press gaggle on the sidelines of the World Routes conference Sunday in Chicago, said a RR engine would likely be based on elements of the Trent 1000 and Trent 7000 engines on the Boeing 787 and Airbus A330neo.

Clark has been urging Airbus for some time to improve fuel consumption on the A380 by 10%-12%. The only way this can be achieved is by re-engining the airplane, along with other improvements.

Clark has also been urging Airbus to build a stretched A380-900, but said this isn’t in the cards because Airbus is currently risk adverse when it comes to the A380.

Even a re-engining of the airplane presents a challenge for the business case, he said, despite his pledge to order 60 or more A380neos.

He said it is also possible the new engine might find its way on the A350-1000, providing some commonality between the A380 and the largest member of the A350.

Clark’s Emirates canceled its order for 50 A350-900s and 20 A350-1000s in June, but a short time later said that it will evaluate the A350 and 787-9/10 for a potential new order.

“I want to see the A350 and 787-9 in service first,” Clark told the press gaggle, in response to our question. Clark said he wants to see actual fuel performance of the airplanes in operation, not just from test flights.

For the first time publicly Clark also explained why the A350 order was canceled. The A350, and particularly the A350-1000, was not the same airplane contracted for when the order was originally placed in 2007.

Airbus revamped the -1000 specifications since then in an effort to improve performance. As part of this, Rolls-Royce modified the engine, reducing commonality between the -900 and -1000 engines. Emirates quickly complained that it had not been consulted in advance about the changes.

Clark appeared to pour some cold water on the prospect of ordering more Boeing 777-300ER, something Boeing has been urging as one aspect to filling its production gap between the -300ER and the 777X, due for delivery in 2020. Emirates has 170 -300ERs in service and on order and is a launch customer of the 777X.
Clark said that a new order for the -300ER wouldn’t see delivery until beginning in 2018, just two years in advance of the 777X. Such a timeline means additional -300ERs would be in service well beyond delivery of the more advanced successor, the 777-8 and 777-9. Clark clearly was unenthused about this prospect but didn’t definitively rule it out.

21 Comments on “Airbus could decide on A380neo within six month: Emirates’ Tim Clark

    • I think Airbus has got it right with the A380. They will go ahead with the NEO and in a number of years more will be sold. They also got it right with the A320neo beating boeing by orders and assembly. I can assure you that the 737Max will probably be delayed…and I see this happening with the 777-9X too…the dreamliner was a mess from the start and until now…especially with Air India…problems still arise…

      • Are you kidding? Do you want to talk about the delays of the 350? Or the problems that the a380 has with emirates?

  1. Does Mr. Clark actually have a forehead as high as the image suggests?

    With deliveries from the most recent order said to start in 2016 (WP data, is that correct? ) would a reengine lead to _further_ orders or would new engines be available early enough to be (partly?) hung on that batch?
    Are there any potential customers waiting in the aisles for a -900 stretch? ( a couole of years ago Lufthansa went public ( German newspapers ) with interest in a 1000 seat plane, though probably not big batch 😉

  2. The A380 has to be better than the B777-9X on a per-seat basis with the -9X having 10-abreast seating and the A380, too. If I was Airbus I would wait as long as possible, but the necessity for an upgrade is obvious. The hope that the A380 is ordered due to its size alone, even if fuel consumption is slightly worse than smaller competitors, is gone (as was the case with the B747-400, which wasn’t best-in-clase since B772ER and A340 went into service). Or at least airlines will not order in numbers.

    • If I was Airbus,i would ignore Clark,after the A350 fiasco (using the A350 order to push Boeing along on the 777x and then cancelling when it was announced)because I think this A380neo bit is to get Boeing to lower its cost on the 747-8,this Aircraft is better fuel wise. Clark wants the 747-8 and will cancel the extra 50 A380 saying they should have neo’ed it,when all along his target is the 747-8. As for RR stay well away from this man or you will loose billions.

  3. Emirates would be an obvious candidate for an A350-1100 aircraft. 777-9x for long haul and the A350-1100 for their many medium haul routes. Perhaps a combination of A380s and A350-1100 orders could justify the engine development.

    • Where would the 1100 come from? The Airbus 350-1000 wasn’t designed to be stretched beyond that. The Airbus A380 can. A won’t waste the time and resources on a project plane that may not have an audience.

      • “A won’t waste the time and resources on a project plane that may not have an audience”

        – We’ve seen similar talk when Airbus was still deliberating the re-engined A330 for the past couple of years. We did see a few customers asking for it. But after the launch of the A330neo, Airbus surprised us with some more customers signing up for it with others expressing strong interest. Tells you that Airbus did have a bigger audience behind closed doors than just the few who were publicly making noise.

        For the -1100, they need not be in a hurry. Perhaps they can consider it when they are closer to delivering on the -1000. By then, with enough data on hand, they can start communicating the prospects of the -1100 with customers and see where they go on from there.

        • Granted but we are speaking of a niche aircraft. Nobody else is on record clamoring for the NEO other than EK. Name another airline that can fill it like EK? Who else is buying/leasing them in such large volumes? This is all EK and Airbus.

          As far as the 1100 goes, and I Airbus should make a decision soon. Under normal circumstances it takes 4-5 years for the development cycle to complete itself. If Airbus were to announce the 1100 in 1/1/15, we’re looking at 4-5 years if EVERYTHING going according to plan. (We don’t even know if they are thinking of stretching it.) 2015 + 4/5 years is 2019/2020. Coincidentally the SAME year the 777-9 arrives.

          Another thing is that the market that the 777-9 occupies is finite, so when there’s no more room, the door is closed and will stay closed. Airbus is better off investing in the A380.

        • AAB said “we too” to the A380NEO idea when it was first raised. Of course if it suites EK it will fit the other ME carriers.

      • Airbus have already admitted a further A350 stretch is possible, no doubt planned for when they did the 350-1000 mk 2. Scott once posted that he thought it might debut a new engine, which could find it’s way onto the A380. At one point Clark talks about it POSSIBLY being Trent based, meaning not necessarily, and possibly finding its way onto the A350 later.

      • The A350-1000 can be stretched but the -1100 need a new wing. Being made of prepreg it can get rewised tools and get an optimal shape fairly easy. It needs bigger fan Engines installerad and the wing design can allow engines fitted further up like on the 777x. $2-3 later you have very competetive aircraft mainly paid by RR.

  4. A stretched A388 with new engines (i.e. A389NEO) would not only look proportional but would have an unmatchable CASM..even though it would probably reduce the flexibility of the plane to certain routes (and carriers) but for a carrier such as EK it would be a serious money-maker…IMHO.

  5. “… the new engine might find its way on the A350-1000, providing some commonality between the A380 and the largest member of the A350”

    This has been suggested before as a solution – still don’t understand how a requirement for a 70-80k engine (A380) and a c.100k engine (A350-1100) could be regarded as interchangeable?

  6. I’m surprised most A380 operators don’t switch the main cabin to half 11 abreast econ, and half 9 or 10 abreast premium econ. 11 abreast is the same as 10 abreast on the 777-300ER. Might as well have a consistent long haul economy product, and collect a small fee for the premium economy. The wide seats of the A380 at 10 seem to be given away for free. Even if that layout means many free upgrades to premium economy, that would be a good strategy for building customer preference for the A380.

    • It seems sofar many carriers are able to charge a premium for A380 tickets versus other long haul aircraft types. Downgrading specs for the masses in economy might damage this rewarding all “economy plus” position..

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