The operators of Vienna International Airport have decided not to go ahead with plans to build a new air bridge with three gates capable of handling the Airbus A380.
Since the airport upgraded one of its terminals to handle the A380 in 2014, only Dubai-based Emirates Airlines has used Gate D27 on the West Pier for the giant plane.
Once Airbus announced that it would be stopping production of the A380 last February, following a cancelation in orders from Emirates, it now seems pointless in spending millions of euros to accommodate the double-decker aircraft on the modernized East Pier.
When talking about the airport’s decision not to build the new air bridge and gates, Austrian aviation website AviationNetOnline cites airport spokesperson Peter Kleemann as saying:
“A gate with three air bridges will not be built. The reason is that the production of the Airbus A380 has been discontinued and it can be assumed in the long term that it will no longer fly.”
Emirates has already been informed of Vienna Airport’s decision. While the Gulf carrier will continue to operate the Airbus A380 well into the foreseeable future, it too realizes that the A380’s days are numbered.
Emirates currently has 115 Airbus A380s in its fleet and a further eight on an order. Unlike Emirates, who have hitched their wagon firmly to the A380 some time ago, other airlines around the world are retiring their planes in favor of the much more efficient twin-engine Airbus A350.
Back to Vienna Airport, the passenger numbers arriving from and traveling to the Gulf state have been declining year on year. Last year, they were down 8% compared to 2016 numbers.
Emirates has also increasingly used the smaller Boeing 777 instead of the Airbus A380 in the past few months for the six-hour 15-minute flight. According to official sources, this was “to optimally meet the operational requirements of our global network.”
More importantly, a smaller aircraft have been deployed thanks to Air Arabia’s daily flight to Sharjah International Airport (SHJ). This airport is 20 miles further away from Dubai than Dubai International Airport.
For those not familiar with Air Arabia, it is an Emirati low-cost airline that operates a fleet of narrowbody Airbus A320 family jets.
Vienna Airport (VIE) is located near the village of Schwechat in Austria, 18 kilometers from downtown Vienna. Often referred to as the gateway to Eastern Europe due to Austrian Airlines’ vast network of flights to former communist countries, the airport has seen increased competition from nearby Bratislava and Budapest.
Budapest, in particular, has grown in importance with Ferenc Liszt International Airport (BUD) handling 16.2 million passengers in 2019; an 8.8% increase from the previous year.
With passenger numbers expected to continue growing, Vienna Airport still has a big role to play, with a third runway planned to be completed by 2030.
One thing is certain and that is you cannot blame the airport operators for canceling the A380 bridge and gate construction as airlines start to retire their fleets of four-engine aircraft.