Emirates Swells Superjumbo Fleet With Orphaned Skymark Planes

Emirates Airbus A380 Flies Into Manchester Airport

An Emirates Airline Airbus A380 airplane.

Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg
  • Double-deckers will join Gulf giant toward end of 2017
  • Order brings carrier's A380 order tally to 142 aircraft

Emirates, already the biggest buyer of Airbus Group SE’s A380 superjumbo, agreed to take two extra aircraft originally commissioned by Japan’s Skymark Airlines Inc., swelling its order tally to 142 of the planes.

The initial deal was canceled after the Asian budget carrier fell behind on payments prior to a bankruptcy filing, with the double-deckers built and approaching delivery. Interior fittings were never installed, so Emirates is acquiring brand new planes that it can furnish to its own specifications.

The switch will accelerate the expansion of Emirates’s 75-strong A380 fleet as it funnels millions of passengers traveling from Europe and North America to Asia, Africa and the Middle East via its Gulf hub, while removing the orphaned jets from Airbus’s inventory.

The two aircraft will be delivered in the fourth quarter of 2017 in a two-class configuration and are among 33 due to arrive at Emirates by the end of that year, Tim Clark, the carrier’s president, said in a statement confirming plans report earlier by Bloomberg. Prague, Taipei and Vienna are the next destinations due to be served by the model, he said.

Emirates has stepped in for surplus superjumbos before, agreeing last year to take over delivery slots for four jets from leasing firm Amedeo, which had failed to find an end customer for them. Amedeo has yet to announce operators for the next batch that it’s due to take in 2017.

Skymark exited bankruptcy administration earlier this year and is forecasting an operating profit of 1.5 billion yen ($13 million) for the 12 months ended March 31 after reducing its fleet, cutting routes and tapping investment from sources including ANA Holdings Inc. and private-equity firm Integral Corp.

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