In my last post, I wrote about the huge orders that Emirates Airlines had placed in the last month. When these orders are filled, they will have 90 Airbus A-380s, and 101 Boeing 777s. It’s easy for me to say that’s a large order, but exactly how large is it?

First, let’s look at the capabilities of the two aircraft.

The 777 was the first commercial aircraft to be digitally designed. According to Boeing, “The Model 777, the first entirely new Boeing airplane in more than a decade, was the first jetliner to be 100 percent digitally designed using three-dimensional computer graphics. Throughout the design process, the airplane was “preassembled” on the computer, eliminating the need for a costly, full-scale mock-up.” Its first flight, in 1995, was with United Airlines. Its range is 4,210 (6,775 km) to 8,270 (13,309 km) miles, and it can seat 305 to 440 passengers.

This is a long-distance aircraft. American Airlines uses it on their longest non-stop flight, Chicago to New Delhi, 7,483 miles (12,042 km). Continental Airlines flies it from Newark to Hong Kong, 8,065 miles (12,979 km). Delta Airlines uses it to fly from Atlanta to Johannesburg, 8,439 miles (13,581 km).

The A-380 has similar numbers. According to Airbus the A-380, with 525 passengers, has a range of 8,200 nautical miles (15,200 km), allowing it to fly New York to Hong Kong.

With the range of these two aircraft, Emirates can offer non-stop service from Dubai to every city in North and South America, Europe, Africa, Asia, and Australia. In other words, they can fly non-stop from Dubai to any major airport anywhere in the world. So now we know what their market is.

How large is their order compared to other airlines?

Emirates will have 101 777s. American Airlines currently has 47. British Airways also has 47.

Emirates has ordered 90 A-380s. The next two largest orders are Qantas with 20, Singapore Airlines with 19. (source: Airbus orders, June 2010)

Emirates will have more 777s than American Airlines and British Airways combined. Its A-380 order is more than four times the size of the next largest order. The numbers speak for themselves. If Emirates’ goal is not to dominate long-distance air travel worldwide, then they are certainly spending a lot of money on aircraft they won’t need.

Emirates has an advantage over many other airlines. According to an article in the Wall Street Journal, “Emirates is owned by the government of Dubai, which also owns the emirate’s airports. The ruling family has developed its aviation policies to promote Dubai as a global hub connecting far-flung markets. It allows almost any airline to land at its airport, which charges low fees. Dubai has no income tax or corporate tax. The low costs help Emirates against rivals in higher-cost markets.”

But the article also highlights efforts by Lufthansa to limit Emirates’ access to the German market, currently 4 cities (Hamburg, Munich, Frankfurt, and Dusseldorf). At the same time, Air Canada wants to limit Emirate’s access to the Canadian market, currently one city (Toronto).

For Emireates, the orders are placed and the aircraft are coming. Will other countries grant them access to their markets, or will national carriers such as Air Canada and Lufthansa try to limit them?  This will be interesting to watch.