Re: Glossing a commercial turd
Calling Emirate's A380 operation out of Dubai "niche" is a bit like referring to Ford F150 pickup as "niche".
Emirate's operation is vast, and the A380 serves them very well. What they offer some of the most profitable passengers (business people who get business class travel) in the aviation market is nigh on unmatched, and it results in pretty good load factors. Amongst other things, that bar they have is a pretty big draw.
Apparently Emirates consider the staircase you have to climb to First / Business class heaven on their A380s is one of the most powerful marketing tools they have. Yes, it's irrational, but then a lot of purchasing decisions are irrational. People with money like to think they're going "up there", and not "down there".
Etihad have "The Residence", a multi-room suite on their A380s. This is reputed to be the most profitable ticket ($ / cubic foot) in the whole aviation market.
I know plenty of people who travel Europe / Asia / Africa who won't even bother looking at any other airline now, simply because they want to go on an A380 to get there. Even for economy class travellers (like I was the other day) the flight on an EK A380 was better than anything else out there (except perhaps another A380), and infinitely preferable to being squeezed up in a 787 or 777.
As for A380 orders drying up, well not yet. Rumours of its extinction have circulated since before it even flew, and yet it's still there. Emirates themselves are in the position of not being able to afford to let the production line close. Many were surprised (not least Boeing) when they ordered a few more, just to keep the line going. It's entirely possible that Emireates will cancel a few 777X orders to compensate which, given the size of the Emirates' order, Boeing would find discombobulating.
Plus there's clearly a demand from Emirates for an A380neo, and they have the money to pay for it. In fact, they've got the money to buy Airbus to make it happen. Anyway, one of the reasons why it's not happened yet is because Airbus don't want to destroy the investment made by other A380 customers.
The A380neo is like a gun held to the head of the entire aviation industry; if it is built, and it turns up competing on a route you operate with your puny 777s / 787s, you're likely going to lose all your passengers on that route to the A380neo operator. It just has so much capacity, it's the equivalent of a high quality superstore opening up in competition to a local Mom'n'Pop shop, with all the economies of scale too. Emirates have already been doing this successfully with the current A380 on many routes, the neo would finish off the competition entirely.
It happened with the 747 too, back in the day. Back then an airline executive had to take a Brave Pill before buying 747s. Those that did made big bucks. Those that didn't failed. The problem with the A380 (and A380neo) is that you have to take a f***ing big Brave Pill to buy them, because by definition it's a statement of intent to increase passenger numbers on a route. In effect Emirates have been saying to the other airlines, "Well if you won't, I will", and getting away with it.