January 6, 2014 – 3:23PM
An Emirates A380 was granted a rare exception to land after the 11pm curfew at Sydney Airport.
Emirates was granted a rare dispensation to land an A380 after the Sydney Airport curfew on Sunday evening because a passenger had become ill after boarding the flight in Dubai.
An Emirates spokeswoman said EK414 from Dubai landed at 11.13pm on Sunday after receiving dispensation from Australian authorities to land up to 15 minutes after the 11pm curfew.
The flight had been scheduled to land in Sydney at 10.30pm but departed Dubai around 90 minutes later than expected and appears to have made up as much time as possible in the air. It landed on the main north-south runway 34L, which implies an approach over water.
Infrastructure and Regional Services Minister Warren Truss or his delegate are the only authorities allowed to offer dispensation and it is only done in exceptional cases.
A spokesman for Mr Truss said EK414 received approval to arrive at Sydney no later than 11:20pm due to a delay caused by a sick passenger.
“The aircraft followed published noise abatement procedures to minimise the impacts on the Sydney community,” the spokesman said.
Emirates was last year charged with three alleged breaches of the curfew between 2011 and 2013 that could lead to a maximum fine of $550,000 per breach.
The charges against Emirates for curfew breaches were laid just before the federal election in September when Anthony Albanese was still the federal transport minister.
Emirates carries around 500 passengers on each A380. If it is not allowed to take off and land in Sydney during the restricted period when delays occur, it would face the cost of paying for hotel rooms for the passengers and the need to re-book them on other flights to Australia.
Dispensations at Sydney Airport only occur on rare occasions. Last year, just 20 requests were approved, of which six were for Virgin Australia on July 19 when its reservations system suffered an outage.
In the latest report to parliament tabled in December, one Virgin Australia flight from Melbourne to Sydney was granted dispensation to land at 11:02pm in December but a request from Qantas in November for a flight from Brisbane to Sydney was rejected.
The criteria for dispensations include how close the timing of the predicted landing is to the 11pm curfew, whether the take-off or landing is over water, whether the cause of the delay was within the operator’s control, the noise level of the aircraft, the number of passengers involved and the severity of the likely hardship.
Mr Truss has indicated a second airport in Sydney, likely to be built at Badgerys Creek, is unlikely to be constrained by a curfew. That would help make the airport more attractive to airlines.
The Sydney Morning Herald
By Justin Bachman
An Emirates’ A380 passes over Dubai Air Show 2013, flanked by the UAE Air Force Al Forsan team.
The world’s largest passenger plane will live to fight another day. Airbus’s A380 superjumbo got a fresh 50-jet order from Emirates Airline, the Dubai flag carrier, on Sunday at the Dubai Air Show.
The order was the first of the year for the twin-deck aeroplane, which has struggled with weak demand from airlines, which must struggle to fit such a large plane into their networks. Emirates is the largest buyer of the A380, with 39 in service and 101 now on order.
The plane has lost favour with several airlines, with Lufthansa and Air France-KLM backing away from the jet in favour of smaller aircraft and Virgin Atlantic Airways saying it will review whether it needs any of the six A380s it has ordered.
Last week, Airbus parent EADS said it had open production slots in 2015 for the jet and that it may need to review whether to slow production, given the weak demand.
Rival Boeing’s largest jet, the 747-8, has struggled with similar weak demand.
In the plane’s early days, Airbus marketed the spacious double-decker as a flying luxury palace, and several airlines touted visions of casinos, restaurants and shopping galleries as potential amenities for well-heeled travellers on the A380. Those days, about 12 years ago, were before the global financial crisis and before volatility became the norm for jet fuel prices.
Today, the plane flies with about 500 seats on the few global airlines that use it: Singapore, Emirates, Air France, Lufthansa and British Airways.
Korean Air, for example, puts only 407 seats on its A380.
A British leasing company that aims to purchase 20 of the jets says that is not nearly enough. Doric Lease, the largest lessor of the A380, says the jet needs to fly with about 630 seats to improve the plane’s efficiency. It is pushing Airbus to standardise the seat layout on the jet, which makes it simpler to transfer the plane from one fleet to another, so that when carriers such as Singapore and Emirates start to shed “older” A380s in a few years, Doric can place the jets with a new operator quickly.
“We’re looking at optimising the space on this aircraft and making it more efficient,” said Doric’s managing director Mark Lapidus.
“It’s a cash-printing machine for an airline that is using it correctly.”
And that means more seats and a better return on each flight – to the point of potentially moving the crew rest quarters to the cargo hold, he said. A primary consideration in the new A380s will be seating density: whether to continue with a 10-abreast seat arrangement in the economy cabin or move to 11, with a 3-5-3 configuration.
That would add about 40 additional seats in the cabin. Emirates puts its first and business-class sections on the upper deck.
“I am sure Airbus is going to persuade us to do it,” Emirates president Tim Clark told Aviation Week, with the airline’s goal being to keep its coach-class seats at least 18 inches wide.
The New Zealand Herald