Emirates has long been one of the handful of airlines that operate a fleet with only wide-body aircraft, like Singapore Airlines and Cathay Pacific. Today, the airline announced that they have retired all of their A330 and A340. This leaves them with only the Airbus A380 and the Boeing 777 in the fleet, which is pretty interesting!
A big part of their business model is a focus on long-haul flights to major cities in the world. A fleet of wide-body aircraft allows them to move a large number of people at a time, and at the same time put a lot to cargo in the belly of the planes. For the short-haul flights, Emirates would rather fly a wide-body than to maintain another aircraft type in their fleet.
There are costs associated with having different aircraft types in a fleet—Southwest Airlines, for example, charts part of its efficiency to having a fleet that comprises only Boeing 737. They need separate pilots, catering accomodations, etc., which might not be as effective. With 85 A380s and 160 Boeing 777s, Emirates is the largest operator of both types of aircraft. They also have 150 Boeing 777X on order, which will be delivered starting 2020.
It’s worth noting that Emirates already has one of the youngest fleet, with an average age of just 5.2 years. Even so, they are actively adding new aircraft and retiring existing ones, and they estimate that they will retire 25 planes from their fleet in the next 2 years.
The A330 and A340 were the only planes in Emirates’ fleet that do not offer Wi-Fi. This means that with their retirement, Emirates will now offer free Wi-Fi on all of their planes. Even though there are different seating configuration even among the Boeing 777s, having a more uniform fleet should help offer a more consistent experience for passengers, at least from the hard product standpoint.