Dubai: Emirates will have more than 450 aircraft in its fleet by 2020, Shaikh Ahmad Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, President of Dubai Civil Aviation Authority and Chairman and Chief Executive of Emirates Group, said.
Emirates aims to increase its fleet size from 115 now to 200 by 2012 to support its widening route network and increase service frequencies. It is scheduled to take delivery of 22 planes this year. At present the airline has 243, planes on order with a total estimated value of $60 billion.
"Emirates has been doubling its size every three or four years since it started. I think we will continue with that kind of growth," Shaikh Ahmad said on Tuesday during a session at the World Travel and Tourism Council Summit.
Maurice Flanagan, executive vice-chairman of Emirates, told Gulf News the airline could even have 600 aircraft in 2020 but will settle for 450 because the airport would not be able to support an expansion of that size.
Dubai's strategic location has helped the airline in its rapid expansion, said Shaikh Ahmad, who is also chairman of Dubai Airports, the entity that manages the emirate's airport facilities. He said Dubai International Airport is expected to handle 40 million passengers this year, 16.5 per cent more than the number in 2007.
Dubai is expanding the existing airport at a cost of Dh15 billion and the second concourse and Terminal 3 will be ready in the next three months.
The airline's current aircraft order book includes 58 A380 superjumbo jets, which Emirates plans to use on both short and long-haul services.
"The aircraft can do any of the routes that we are operating today," Shaikh Ahmad said.
He said the airline strongly believes in the commercial viability of the A380, which can carry 555 passengers in a typical three-class configuration, and had helped "to define the aircraft" before its launch. "Maybe we will buy more A380s. It is an excellent aircraft," he said.
Shaikh Ahmad said high crude oil prices are a cause of concern.
The airline is using hedging tools to protect itself from price fluctuations and has budgeted for $100-plus oil prices in the coming years. Shaikh Ahmad said the company's performance in the 2007-8 financial year has been "good" and the results will be announced in a few days.
Inflation: Airbus to raise prices
European planemaker Airbus is increasing catalogue prices for its aircraft to reflect the low dollar and high metal prices.
Airbus says that starting May 1 it is adding $4 million (Dh14.68 million) to the price tag of its superjumbo A380 and long range wide-body jets.
The planemaker lists the A380 at $327 million and the A350-800XWB at $208 million, although it typically offers substantial discounts on book prices.
It is also charging an extra $2 million for single-aisle aircraft such as the A320, listed at $77 million.
The increases come on top of the regular 2.74 per cent annual price increase for 2007.
Airbus' chief salesman John Leahy said yesterday the planemaker has to keep pace with world market prices.