PARIS, FRANCE — The Airbus A380, once thought to be a failed venture, may have a new lease on life. In 2019, Airbus announced the discontinuation of production for its double-decked iconic aircraft, as it failed to meet sales expectations in the face of competition from Boeing's 787 Dreamliner and Airbus' own A350 - the new generation twin-engine jets known for their fuel efficiency.

Airlines began removing the A380 from their fleet plans due to the lack of passenger demand and its high operating costs. And then, the COVID-19 pandemic arrived, which devastated the travel industry and caused the bankruptcy of many airlines around the world.

As countries began to ease or lift strict pandemic restrictions last year, international travel picked up once again. Gulf-based carrier Emirates Airlines became the biggest beneficiary of this trend and is the largest operator of Airbus' iconic superjumbo with 121 A380s in the fleet, of which 67 will be retrofitted with premium economy seats.

Emirates announced a record profit of $1.2 billion for the first half of the fiscal year. The airline has begun to return its A380s into service, with plans to fully reintroduce them by the end of next year in an effort to bring its operations to pre-pandemic levels.

Besides Emirates, the German flag carrier Lufthansa is another major carrier that returns its stored A380s to active service.

Emirates has unveiled a fully refurbished A380 boasting an array of new features and interiors across all cabins. 56 Premium Economy seats on the main deck, as well as fresh color palettes in the carpeting and wall panels. In the upper deck, First and Business Class seats feature the airline's latest cream-colored leather upholstery and light-toned wood finishing, similar to the airline's recently-introduced "game changer" product. Additionally, the interiors feature Emirates' signature ghaf tree motif, including hand-stenciled panels in the First Class Shower Spa.

The first renewed Emirates A380 made its first flight from Dubai to London on Jan. 6. The Group will spend around $2 billion for the entire refurbishment program.

Emirates' success with its A380s is not solely dependent on the rebound of the travel industry. The airline faced challenges due to delays in the delivery of Boeing's 777X.

The Boeing 777X is the latest version of the widely popular 777 widebody aircraft, featuring new technologies such as folding wingtips and GE9X engines. The plane is designed to be more fuel-efficient and has a longer range than its predecessor, making it a highly sought-after option for airlines looking to expand their long-haul fleets.

Emirates has placed orders for 150 777X aircraft, with plans to phase out its A380 fleet and replace them with Boeing's new groundbreaking widebody jets. However, the program has been plagued by delays. In 2019, the FAA grounded the 737 MAX following two deadly crashes, and this had a knock-on effect on the 777X program, delaying the plane's first flight and delivery. Additionally, the ongoing pandemic has created further supply chain disruptions that have further delayed the program. The suspension of 787 deliveries over production quality issues also deepened Boeing's problems and forced the company to be very cautious with the progress of the 777X program.

As of now, the first delivery of the 777X is not expected before 2025. Despite the delays, many airlines, including Lufthansa, Singapore Airlines, and Cathay Pacific, have placed orders for the plane, expressing confidence in its capabilities and potential. The 777X is expected to be a game-changer for the aviation industry with its advanced features and fuel efficiency and is set to play an important role in the recovery of the industry after the pandemic.