AuthorTopic: 🛬 Death of Aviation: Last Flight of the 747  (Read 5611 times)

Offline RE

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🛬 Death of Aviation: Last Flight of the 747
« on: November 06, 2017, 05:29:50 AM »
And so it begins.

RE

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/v/6SsnBmRt4i4" target="_blank" class="new_win">http://www.youtube.com/v/6SsnBmRt4i4</a>
« Last Edit: February 14, 2019, 08:21:58 AM by RE »
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Offline RE

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🛬 Death of Aviation: The rise and fall of the Airbus A380 superjumbo
« Reply #1 on: February 14, 2019, 08:19:28 AM »
Following closely on the heels of the recent death of the Boeing 747 Jumbo Jet, the Airbus A380 is now history also.  The death of the aviation industry has begun.

RE

https://www.cnbc.com/2019/02/14/airbus-a380-superjumbo-the-rise-and-fall.html

The rise and fall of the Airbus A380 superjumbo


    Airbus has ended its A380 superjumbo program.
    Due to a lack of orders, the future of the plane had long been in doubt.
    The very first commercial A380 journey flew under a Singapore Airlines livery in 2007.

David Reid   | @cnbcdavy
Published 6 Hours Ago CNBC.com
   
      
An A380 aircraft under construction at an EADS factory in Toulouse, France
Pascal Parrot | Getty Images
An A380 aircraft under construction at an EADS factory in Toulouse, France

The European plane maker Airbus announced an end to its A380 superjumbo program, just 12 years after it first took to the skies.

The future of the world's largest commercial jet-liner had long been in doubt after it became clear that it was heavily reliant on just one customer, the Middle East airline Emirates.

CNBC takes a look at the plane that was built to revolutionize air travel, but found that the skies had already moved on.
The business case

Built as a direct response to Boeing's 747, the A380 program was officially launched in June 1994. The European plane was seen as a big bet that air travel would become "hub and spoke," where large planes would carry out the first long leg to big airports before passengers would splinter off to their final destination in smaller jets.

While Boeing's 747-8 can carry around 470 passengers, the A380 holds at least 500 and has been configured by Emirates to carry as many as 600.

The plane's huge number of seats was seen as key in helping to free up the air traffic overcrowding at several big airports such as London's Heathrow, New York's JFK and Chicago's O'Hare.

Each plane is priced publicly at around $445 million although airlines negotiate steep discounts.


The plane takes to the skies
This photograph taken on January 7, 2014 shows a Singapore Airlines Airbus A380 approaching for landing at Changi International Airport in Singapore.
Roslan Rahman | AFP | Getty Images

The A380 is mainly built in a 1.6-million-square-foot assembly plant at Airbus' headquarters in Toulouse.

The very first version to fly took off from Toulouse in April 2005 and was first used commercially by Singapore Airlines in October 2007, flying between Singapore and Sydney.

British Airways, Air France, Emirates and Air China have all been among the A380's 13 different carriers although no U.S., South American or African airline has ever placed an order.

Customer feedback was positive as additional space, walk-up bars, and a quiet ride all pleased flyers. Airlines found they could charge a small premium on tickets as customers hunted for routes using the superjumbo.
What went wrong?


An Airbus A380 in Emirates livery.
Airbus

Airbus' Global Market Forecast from the year 2000 predicted that 1,235 "very large aircraft" would be delivered to customers between 2000 and 2019. But as of January 2019, Airbus had received 313 firm orders and delivered just 234 aircraft.

The firm's lofty target was swiftly undermined by the arrival of more fuel-friendly offerings such as Airbus's own A350 or Boeing's 787 Dreamliner.

The smaller aircraft were lighter and could be run more efficiently as the expectation of a steep rise in passenger travel failed to materialize. It was also found that very few routes could operate the A380 at full capacity.

Timing does seem to have been a problem. As the A380 hit the world's runways, a worldwide liberalization of flight routes known as "Open Skies" was underway. This allowed airlines to downsize their planes and fly more regularly.

Added to that is the rise of the ultra long-haul flight. Airlines have asked both Boeing and Airbus to come up with planes that can haul passengers from one side of the world without stopping.
Freighter future?

Boeing's 747 has just celebrated 50 years in the air. Demand for that plane has also dipped sharply but it has found a new role as a freighter.

But a cargo version of the A380 is seen as unworkable for one reason — it is too big. The plane would reach maximum payload long before it's actually full. One estimate is that an A380 could carry 60 percent more volume than a 747 but only 28 percent more weight, thereby making it inefficient.
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Offline Surly1

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Re: 🛬 Death of Aviation: Last Flight of the 747
« Reply #2 on: February 14, 2019, 09:28:44 AM »
As a followup to this--

For some reason I came across this article and read it, mostly because I am as likely to ride about such an aircraft as I am to take up pole vaulting. You might get a kick out of it.

I flew 13 hours nonstop on the world's biggest passenger plane, the $446 million Airbus superjumbo jet, and it's about as good as economy can get


The A380 superjumbo jet is supposed to be a game-changer. I had to find out for myself. Harrison Jacobs/Business Insider; REUTERS/Eric Gaillard

While I'm sure there are planty of wealthy and business types to fill up first class and business, there's probably not enough money sloshing around to fill up economy class.

"It is difficult to write a paradiso when all the superficial indications are that you ought to write an apocalypse." -Ezra Pound

Offline RE

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Re: 🛬 Death of Aviation: Last Flight of the 747
« Reply #3 on: February 14, 2019, 09:55:23 AM »
As a followup to this--

For some reason I came across this article and read it, mostly because I am as likely to ride about such an aircraft as I am to take up pole vaulting. You might get a kick out of it.

Looks a lot like the interior of a 747 in Economy, although I recall that as having 5 seats across in the center.  I only rode economy on a 747 once though, on my Honeymoon with the ex-wife.  All the rest of the trips were First Class down to Oz to visit with Dad the Pigman after the divorce.

RE
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https://www.seattletimes.com/business/boeing-aerospace/airbus-a380-failure-highlights-the-higher-risk-boeing-must-take-to-develop-a-new-jet/

 Airbus’s A380 failure ripples through its rivalry with Boeing in complex ways
Originally published February 14, 2019 at 6:20 pm Updated February 14, 2019 at 8:48 pm


FILE — An Emirates Airline Airbus A380 at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York on June 12, 2014. Demand for the enormous A380 has fallen as traffic began to shift to smaller, more regional airports. (Michael Nagle/The New York Times)

Airbus's decision to terminate its A380 superjumbo jet program as of early 2021 may amount to good news for the company's future. For rival Boeing, while there is a silver lining for its large 777X jet some years out, near-term it could face loss of a big order.
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Dominic Gates By Dominic Gates
Seattle Times aerospace reporter

The Airbus A380 superjumbo jet is the largest airliner ever built, the pride of Europe, a majestic double-decker that thrills onlookers as it flies past and offers passengers unprecedented space and comfort. Now it’s also the biggest jet-program failure in Airbus history.

Thursday’s decision to end the program came after Gulf carrier Emirates canceled orders for 39 of the giant airplanes, leaving a backlog too small to sustain production beyond early 2021. Strangely though, it may amount to good news for Airbus’ future.

And for rival Boeing, while there is a silver lining some years out, near-term there could be negative impacts.

The blow to Airbus has complex implications for both manufacturers

    It comes with an accounting write-off of 463 million euros, or $523 million, marking at least an endpoint to years of losses for Airbus. However, the financial damage is limited because billions of dollars in European government launch aid will now be forgiven.
    The sting of the A380 blow will also be soothed by compensatory orders from Emirates for Airbus’ smaller A350 and A330neo widebody jets.
    Those new orders could have a secondary effect that damages Boeing, with those Airbus jets replacing an Emirates commitment for 40 similarly sized 787-10 Dreamliners that was never finalized.
    And counter-intuitively, Airbus believes that the forgiveness of the government launch aid loans that comes with the termination could give it a get-out-of-jail-free card in the case against it at the World Trade Organization (WTO)

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Boeing may have to content itself with the promise that the 777-9X will win new orders three or four years out after it displaces the A380 as the biggest plane in the sky.

Contrasting histories

The A380 failure is Airbus’ second jet-program disaster after the smaller widebody A340 program ended prematurely in 2012. In contrast, Boeing, despite enormous troubles with many of its airplane programs, in each case has struggled through to commercial success.

Airbus delivered just 377 of the four-engine A340s before it terminated that program. And after it delivers the final 14 A380s to Emirates by early 2021, the superjumbo program will end with just 251 deliveries.

In contrast, not counting the failed 717 inherited from McDonnell Douglas, none of Boeing’s first seven legacy jet programs, from the 707 to the 777, has sold less than 1,000 planes. (For the small, single-aisle 737s, make that 10,500 and counting.)

And Boeing’s eighth legacy jet program, the 787 Dreamliner, has already delivered almost 800 jets, with firm orders that will take it past 1,400 deliveries.
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The starkest A380 comparison is with the venerable Boeing 747 jumbo jet, which just turned 50 years old and has survived through multiple improved iterations to the latest 747-8 model. At the end of January, Boeing had delivered 1,548 of these Queen of the Skies aircraft.

The 747 first flew in 1969 and the A380 in 2005. Astonishingly, Boeing should still be building the 747 when the A380 is gone.

Airplanes of the future

In an interview at the Farnborough Air Show in July, Emirates Chief Executive Tim Clark was still hoping to persuade Airbus and Rolls-Royce to upgrade the A380 with new, more efficient engines and improved aerodynamics including winglets.

He characterized the A380 as integral to “the bold and brave business model” of his airline, which flies huge numbers of passengers long-haul from its hub in Dubai. But he conceded that aerospace-efficiency improvements since the A380 was designed in the 1990s were “step changes that left the A380 behind.”

When he couldn’t get Rolls and Airbus to invest the money in improvements, Clark finally decided to drastically pare back his order. With Emirates effectively the sole customer left, Airbus pulled the plug.

“We have no substantial A380 backlog and hence no basis to sustain production, despite all our sales efforts with other airlines in recent years,” said Airbus chief Tom Enders.

Some 3,000 to 3,500 Airbus employees across Europe work on the A380. On Thursday, management offered the hope that job losses will be limited by increases in production on other programs, including the A320, the A330neo and the A350.

The agreement with Emirates replaces the 39 A380s it canceled with new orders for 40 A330-900neo and 30 A350-900 aircraft. The order for the slow-selling A330neo will be particularly welcome.

And these two orders may be bad news for Boeing, because it’s now widely expected that Emirates will pull out of a fall 2017 nonbinding commitment to buy the 40 Dreamliners.

The only potential silver lining for Boeing is that the demise of the A380 will stimulate orders for the forthcoming 777-9X, due to roll out of the Everett factory for the first time this month, and seating 400 to 425 passengers.

Emirates may compensate Boeing for nixing the 787-10 order by adding more to its current order for 150 of the big 777Xs. Boeing could certainly use a sales boost for the 777X, which have been stalled since its launch in 2013.

Doug Harned, an analyst with Bernstein Research, wrote in a note to investors Thursday that “with the decline of the A380 and no other 400+ seat airplanes on the horizon, the 777X will be the principal aircraft for large, long range routes.”

However, for now, this market for very large airplanes is slumped.

Emirates neighbor Etihad, the troubled carrier of Abu Dhabi, just cut its Airbus order by 42 A350-900s as part of a financial restructuring, and it is expected to defer or cancel part of its Boeing order for 25 777Xs.

“Nobody seems to want a bigger airplane right now,” said aviation analyst Richard Aboulafia of the Teal Group.

He said he expects that eventually the death of the A380 will be good for the 777X, as it becomes the largest airliner available.

“But it looks like the 777X will have to get through some thin times before it inherits that mantle,” Aboulafia said.

Subsidies and risk

The A380 failure also points to a large imbalance in the risk borne by the two airplane giants when they launch new jet programs.

The financial blow to Airbus of the A380 failure, while severe, is cushioned by not having to fully repay the government loans it used to help develop the A380. In contrast, a commercial failure of similar magnitude could potentially bring Boeing down.

It’s an argument Boeing has cited repeatedly in the U.S.’s case against Airbus at the WTO.

The U.S. claimed in its WTO filings that Airbus received a total of about $4 billion in launch aid for the A380.

According to the European Commission, between 1992 and 2010 the governments of France, Germany, the U.K. and Spain provided launch funding to Airbus covering three jet programs — the A330-200, the A340-500 and -600 and the A380 — amounting in total to 3.7 billion euros, or $4.2 billion.

The vast majority of that was for the A380 and in theory it should all be paid back with interest.

Last May, the WTO ruled in a final decision that Airbus had failed to fix the harm to Boeing from both the A380 and subsequent A350 launch aid. Since then, Boeing’s lawyers have filed motions to impose sanctions on Airbus.

The crux of the WTO ruling is that the government loans to Airbus for those two jet programs were not granted on standard commercial terms.

For Boeing, it’s always been a key point that since the repayments are a fraction of the profit on each delivery, once deliveries end, no more repayments are due and the rest of the loan is forgiven.

Excluding the enormous costs of development, Airbus says it “broke even” on production costs of the A380 in 2015, which means it would have begun then, as it booked a small profit for each airplane, to make the initial, small repayments on the launch aid loans.

However, when lack of demand forced Airbus to cut the planned production rate for this year from 12 to just six airplanes, CEO Enders conceded that “at six per year, we are losing money. That is very clear.”

So A380 repayments have stopped and there won’t be any more.

Aboulafia, speaking Wednesday on the sidelines of the Pacific Northwest Aerospace Alliance annual conference in Lynnwood said, “You can’t talk about a loan being on commercial terms if you are indemnified against failure.”

The termination of the A380 “gives Boeing a strong moral argument,” he added.

However, because the WTO lacks any teeth to enforce its rulings, Aboulafia said he’s pessimistic about any impact on the case against Airbus that has already dragged on more than 14 years.

“I don’t see anything enforceable coming out of this,” Aboulafia said.

Going further, the European Union is expected to file a formal motion declaring that the A380 cancellation satisfies its duty to comply with the WTO panel’s ruling.

That’s because when Airbus’ A340 loans were forgiven after that program was canceled, the WTO panel ruled that the A340 subsidies were ended and no longer relevant to the case.

A person close to the WTO case on the European side who spoke on condition of anonymity ahead of formal motions being filed, said that almost all of the sanctions against Airbus that Boeing’s trade lawyers have called for “hinge on future sales of the A380,” sales campaigns that are now dead.

“The WTO is interested only in future market effect,” the person said. “The market effect of a stopped program is zero. What remains of their sanctions case ended this morning.”

Boeing declined to make anyone available to discuss the impact on its WTO case.
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Offline RE

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🛬 Death of Aviation: Private cabins, flying bars—farewell A380
« Reply #5 on: February 17, 2019, 12:34:56 AM »
This story is generating a phenomenal number of articles  Airplane Nostalgia is rampant.

RE

https://arstechnica.com/cars/2019/02/private-cabins-flying-bars-and-hundreds-of-seats-farewell-airbus-a380/

carbon fiber skywhale —
Private cabins, flying bars, and hundreds of seats—farewell, Airbus A380

Enjoy this photo gallery in memory of the now-cancelled airliner.

Jonathan M. Gitlin - 2/16/2019, 5:30 AM

On Valentine's Day, Airbus confirmed that production of the massive A380 airliner will come to an end, breaking some plane nerds' hearts. When it was unveiled to the world in 2005, Airbus touted its efficiency over twin-engined long-haul planes, but this mighty carbon-fiber double-decker never lived up to expectations. Not all airports could accommodate its physical size, and getting the self-loading cargo on and off could take a while.
Further Reading
Citing lack of demand, Airbus cancels A380 superjumbo aircraft

Unlike the 747, it doesn't appear set to have a continued career carrying cargo, either. You'd expect the biggest passenger plane of the skies to make a pretty decent freighter. But there's no folding nose variant, so you can't take full advantage of its commodious interior to carry really big stuff. In 2021, the last A380 will depart final assembly in Toulouse, France. By then, more than 300 of these carbon composite skywhales should have been delivered, and so we expect they'll remain a regular sight at airports they already service.

The Airbus superjumbo never really captured the public's heart the way the 747 has, and there's no denying the decision to put the cockpit on the lower deck gives the plane a hydrocephalic appearance. But the complex curvature of the wing is a thing of beauty, and it's always wonderful to see something so large land so gracefully. (If you time your visit to the Smithsonian Udvar-Hazy annex for the right time of day, you can watch them come in up on the observation deck.)

Flying long-distance in an A380 can be an opulent affair. Both Singapore Airlines and Emirates have private first class suites on board, and the flying bar—first seen on the original jumbo jet—has made something of a comeback, too. The promo shots have a certain air of "crew quarters on NCC-1701D," although you'll see from the gallery (or on YouTube) that they're a little smaller than that. Further aft things are more spartan, and pick the upper deck because the 2-4-2 layout is less cramped than downstairs' 3-4-3.

I've only been fortunate enough to fly an A380 once (of late 747s appear to be the preferred type for Dulles to Heathrow). But that one trip made me fall for the big plastic bird. It was a quiet and smooth ride, and the bathrooms at the front of the upper deck were bigger than the bathrooms of some houses I've lived in. Here's to you, you majestic flying cruise liner.

Listing image by Airbus
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Offline RE

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https://www.forbes.com/sites/danielreed/2019/02/15/the-plane-that-never-should-have-been-built-the-a380-was-designed-for-marketplace-failure/#2f79ea403c59

The Plane That Never Should Have Been Built: The A380 Was Designed For Failure

Dan Reed
Contributor

Aerospace & Defense
I write about airlines, the travel biz, and related industries

An Emirates Airbus A380, with nearly 500 seats, was showered by water canons as it mad it's inaugural arrival at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport in 2014, in Grapevine, Texas.  (Tony Gutierrez/Associated Press)

Blame it on testosterone, of which there’s always been an over-abundance in aircraft design and manufacturing. Or blame it on national pride (or continental, in the case of the multi-nation European company Airbus) and political grandstanding. Blame it on out-sized executive or corporate egos – another thing that is never lacking in aviation.

But whatever you choose to blame it on – and there are plenty more options to pick from  – Airbus' announcement Thursday that it will stop making the A380 superjumbo airplane amounts to a giant “I told you so” moment.  Only the “I” in that phrase does not refer to just any one person.

Many, many aircraft manufacturing experts, airline executives, industry consultants, airport planners, travel marketing and planning executives, tourism promoters and chamber of commerce-type officials around the globe, and yes, a whole bunch of reporters and pundits did, in fact, advise Airbus leaders in the 1990s not to do it as they were considering whether to build a mega-jet even bigger than Boeing’s 747.

Even Boeing’s brass – who, if their intent had been ill would have encouraged their Airbus counterparts to build the 600-plus seat, double-decked behemoth -- told  their rivals in the 1990s that building a superjumbo was a bad idea, and that even their own 747 was probably too big for the market. In fact, when they dropped out of talks about a possible joint venture to build a huge airplane, Boeing's leaders were quite open about their reasons. Maybe they didn't say it quite so explicitly, but in effect Boeing's leaders made it clear that they thought that it would be impossible to make a profit on such a plane. But Airbus executives, laboring under pressure from their political masters in France and Germany primarily and whatever other unwise motivations that drove them, plowed ahead.

The A380 turned out to be an impressive technical achievement, and passengers loved flying on the roomy beast. But Thursday’s announcement that production would end in 2021 was no surprise to anyone who was paying attention back when Airbus was considering building it. Nor was it a surprise to anyone who has been even sporadically following the saga of the plane’s slow-motion failure in the market and Airbus’ current leadership’s dilemma over how to kill off its politically popular but commercially disastrous signature program.
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Tom Enders, a German, became CEO of what is now Airbus Group in 2012, following the reign of Frenchman Louis Gallois, per the traditional Airbus pattern of alternating CEOs from the two countries in order to keep politicians on all sides at least partly satisfied. Enders’ goal at Airbus has been from the start to finish the job that Gallois proved incapable of achieving: converting into a real, honest-to-goodness, share-holder focused, profits-driven company the multi-national, politically-steered, pool of aviation assets and interests created to advance national and European pride plus lots of high-paying jobs.

Now Enders’ time at the helm is coming to an end – less than harmoniously – after seven years of fighting the rival national and political interests that have resisted giving up control of the aircraft maker to mere profit-focused investors. He’s set to retire in April. And he clearly had been searching for a way and a time to pull the plug on the A380 program before leaving. Doing so should give his well-regarded French successor, Guillaume Faury, something closer to a clean ledger, financially and politically, to work from going forward. It also should protect Faury from being saddled with the political blame for the potential loss of 3,500 European jobs because of the A380 program’s demise.

Emirates Airlines, the fast-growing global powerhouse based in Dubai, UAE, had been the A380's most important customer from the beginning. It placed the first order for the plane back in 2000 and took the first delivery in 2008. It has used the A380 as its primary tool in turning what used to be a “where’s that?” outpost on the south end of the sparsely populated Arabian Peninsula into one of the world’s busiest and best-operating connecting hubs. Dubai is just about perfectly situated geographically to serve as a connecting point for travel from both Europe and the Americas to India, Southeast Asia and the Australia/Oceania region. It and other airlines based in the Persian Gulf region have diverted huge amounts of passenger traffic from Japan and other connecting points, and created lots more traffic on those routes (and on routes to central and southern Africa) by pouring tons of capacity (via the A380s massive number of seats) at low prices into the market. Currently Emirates serves 50 global destinations with A380s, of which it currently operates 108. Not only has it stolen market share from global rivals, it has created lots of new demand, and captured most of that for itself. And Emirates has undermined western carriers’ pricing strategies and profitability on those routes with its abundance of cheap seats on offer.

It's unclear, maybe even doubtful, that Emirates could have done all that without the A380.

But no other carrier in the world has been able to use the A380 as effectively. Not Qantas, whose homeland is so far from the rest of the world that Airbus’ leaders thought Australia would become a huge A380 market. Not Singapore Air, one of the world’s best airlines and Asia’s leading carrier. Not Japan’s All Nippon Airways. Not British Airways. Not Air France. Nobody.

Those are among the most notable of the 15 other airlines that ever placed orders for the A380. (Two of those “carriers” were actually leasing firms ordering A380s in hopes of being able to lease them to carriers, but they couldn’t, so the 23 planes ordered between them were never built). And most of the others on the list of carriers that ordered A380s already have canceled some of their orders and/or sold or retired some of the ones they did fly.


Much was written about the spacious - and expensive - private suites that some airlines installed for first class passengers on their A380s. But relatively few travelers ever got to experience the opulent accommodations. Here a visitor looks at two adjoining mock-up Suites, n display during the unveiling of Singapore Airlines A380 first class makeover in 2017. Singapore Air, the first carrier to put a double bed in its cabins spent $850 million to refit all its A380 jets to take airborne luxury up another notch. (Nicky Loh/Bloomberg)© 2017 Bloomberg Finance LP

Now even Emirates is losing some interest in the plane. It still flies those 108 in its fleet. But in announcing the A380’s production end on Thursday, Enders also disclosed that Emirates cancelled 35 of the 55 A380s it still had on order. In place of those 35 A380s Emirates said it would take 70 smaller, mid-size wide bodies from Airbus; A330s and A350s, mainly. At list prices those 70 other planes are worth about $21.4 billion. At a list price of $445.6 million each, those 35 cancelled A380s would be worth about $15.6 billion. That compares with the $24.5 billion (at list prices) that it would have paid for all 55 A380s that Emirates still had on order before Thursday.  Since Emirates, as Airbus’s best customer, likely pays nowhere near list price for any of its Airbus jets, it’s hard to tell whether Airbus or Emirates is getting the best end, financially, out this. But it’s likely somewhat close to being a wash in a financial sense.

It’s also very likely that Enders and his team at Airbus are happy with the arrangement – and may have even initiated it – as a way of creating a natural and graceful opportunity to put the A380 program out of its misery.

But it should have happened much earlier. In fact, the A380 should never have been built.

In the immediate aftermath of Thursday’s announcement most news reports followed the company line that the A380 was designed to disrupt the airline industry’s hub-and-spoke model of airline operations but was made vulnerable by the airlines’ shift point-to-point operations even before the first A380 was delivered 11 years ago.

In international hub-and-spoke operations airlines seek to collect travelers from many cities at a central collecting point, or hub, to fill large planes for flights to international destinations (hub-and-spoke does the same thing domestically, but using planes half or a third the size of a 747). Point-to-point international operations, as the name implies, focus of non-stop flights between international cities aboard mid-size wide body planes, often by-passing hubs.

But that, to put it kindly, is a gloss of what really caused the A380 to perform poorly in the market. With a program development cost of more than $17 billion upfront (some analysts suggest that number actually is as high as $25 billion), high European labor costs, persistent manufacturing cost overrun problems and widely suspected steep discounting of the A380’s price just to achieve the 396 firm orders it eventually did get (119 of those orders subsequently were cancelled) it is abundantly clear that the A380 program will be remembered as a massive money loser. It did, however, achieve its political masters’ goal of employing lots of European aerospace workers and keeping the Continent relevant in the high tech aviation manufacturing world.

What really happened is simple. From Day One Airbus’s superjumbo was too big; way too big. And Airbus should have known that from its two sets of talks with Boeing in the 1990s about teaming up to build a jointly-produced superjumbo. Careful, dispassionate analysis of the global travel market also would have shown Airbus leaders why Boeing and most airlines and travel companies thought building a superjumbo was a really dumb idea.


While passengers reported that economy seating aboard A380s to be reasonably comfortable, economy cabins aboard the superjumbo aircraft are vast, as this photo inside a Lufthansa A380 illustrates. (Getty Images)Getty

Boeing’s iconic 747 had held the crown as the world’s largest passenger jet since its service entry in 1970. But by the ‘90s demand for later versions of the 747 had fallen way off from the peak demand era of the 1970s. It, too, was too big and too costly to operate profitably year-round on all but a handful of international routes. U.S. carriers, none of which ever seriously considered buying the A380, had begun removing the four-engine 747 and its smaller rivals, the Lockheed L1011 and McDonnell Douglas DC-10/MD-11 tri-jets, from domestic operations by the early ‘90s. Those planes’ large capacity and the low fare-oriented competitive marketplace driven by deregulation in this country made those wide bodies automatic money losers on domestic flights. And even internationally, the 747 had proved itself to be an inconsistent profits producer.

Boeing engineers, market analysts, financial planners and top leadership all told their Airbus counterparts during their talks about building a jointly-produced superjumbo plane that the market just wouldn’t support a 500- or 600-seater, and likely wouldn’t any time in the foreseeable future.  But Airbus’ leaders at the time did not listen. They were certain of the correctness of their view that hub airports were becoming too crowded to accommodate lots of flights each day on the same international routes, and that congestion would force airlines to switch to once-daily flights on such routes using superjumbos.

But those airport congestion worries were never well-founded. Yes, some airports were – and continue to be – heavily congested. But given the power of hubs to collect hundreds and hundreds of travelers a day to funnel into multiple profit-making hubs, airlines weren’t about to abandon that successful operating style. So they found other ways to make time and space available to keep on flying mid-size planes on key international routes like New York-London s many as 12 times a day. High frequency service aboard multiple mid-size planes was the model that they believed would continue to produce the most revenue and profits because it better fit what travelers actually wanted – lots of access and relatively low prices – than limited access service on one big plane each day in each market. The economic power of the hub was too obvious for airlines to throw it all away in pursuit of Airbus’ grand vision of a mega-plane flying once a day on major international routes.

Yes, as some have noted, some airlines did begin, as Airbus leaders had predicted, bypassing their own hubs, or big foreign hubs to operate some point-to-point flights using mid-size wide bodies. But relatively little of that kind of flying has ever been undertaken, and only on routes where significant point-to-point demand - especially business travel demand - already existed. Additionally, a small number of carriers – just 15 in total – ordered some A380s either because they operated in isolated but large markets where a bigger plane potentially might make  economic sense. Others, like British Airways, ordered a few A380s because they so thoroughly dominated a few routes with heavy existing demand that they thought a superjumbo had a realistic chance at becoming a profit maker in limited deployment. But no carrier, except for Emirates, pushed all their chips to the middle of table in a bet on the A380. In fact, even Emirates continued to order mid-size planes, mostly Boeing 777s, to hedge its bet on the A380 and to cover markets that even it knew an A380 was too big to serve.

The fact of the matter is that most international travel today continues to be aboard mid-size wide body planes, not the jumbo 747 or superjumbo A380. Indeed, the 747 has been fading gradually from the market for more than 20 years now. After delivering more than 1,500 747s in various versions over the last 49 years, Boeing is down to just 24 747-800s still on order. And nearly all of those are freighters. In fact, there are no more orders from airlines for the 747-800I, the current passenger version. However, two are being built now – to very special specifications - to replace the two 747s-200s that began serving in the role Air Force One way back in 1991. Now the wide-spread assumption in the aviation community is that Boeing will shut down its 747 production line entirely once those two highly specialized aircraft are delivered to the U.S. Air Force sometime in the middle of the next decade.

Thus, instead of the 747 and the A380, the future of international air travel over the next 30 years is likely to depend on mid-size wide body planes. Boeing’s and Airbus’ mid-size planes carry just half to two-thirds as many travelers as the 400-seat 747. That makes them consistent money makers on the routes where the 747 typically has struggled to be profitable on a year-round basis - and where the A380 simply cannot compete profitably. When in the mid-90s Boeing added its 777 with more than 300 seats to fit into the market between the 230-seat 767 and the 400-seat 747, it became the optimal Boeing plane for serving most high-demand long-haul international routes profitably. That further undercut the 747’s market opportunities. Now the 787, which entered service in 2012 featuring big operating cost savings, is taking the place of the out-of-production and slightly smaller 767 in Boeing’s lineup. Meanwhile Airbus has significantly updated its older 300-seat A330 and last year introduced its brand new, highly efficient A350 with similar seating capacity to compete effectively against Boeing’s two primary long-haul planes, the 787 and the 777.

Airbus, however, stubbornly pressed on with its A380, which is capable of carrying more than 600 seats but typically flies with closer 500 unusually spacious seats on board because airlines know another 100 seats on board would be superfluous and pointless. With the possible exception of Emirates, no airline has come close to wringing an acceptable return on its investment out of the A380. And most have struggled to even cover their direct operating costs on that plane on a full year-round basis.

So despite the quick and easy excuse being tossed around that the market changed on the A380 after it was designed and built, the reality is that the plane, as impressive and even beautiful as it is, was built for all the wrong reasons. It knowingly was aimed at a market that did not exist at the time of its design and, speaking generously, barely exists today even after 11 years of service. Simply put, the A380 was from the day it first flew designed to be a marketplace loser.

Dan Reed
Contributor

I wrote my first airline-related news story in May 1982 – about the first bankruptcy filing of Braniff International Airways. That led to 26 years covering airlines and related subjects at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram and USA TODAY. I followed the industry through the entir...
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https://www.forbes.com/sites/danielreed/2019/02/15/the-plane-that-never-should-have-been-built-the-a380-was-designed-for-marketplace-failure/#2f79ea403c59

The Plane That Never Should Have Been Built: The A380 Was Designed For Failure

Excellent story.

Last week I read a review some review a traveler wrote for Emirates' economy class. As I looked at the pix of the interior, I wondered where they would find the asses to fill those seats.

Answer: they can't. You don't need to be a weatherman to know which way the wind is blowin'.

Quote
Airbus, however, stubbornly pressed on with its A380, which is capable of carrying more than 600 seats but typically flies with closer 500 unusually spacious seats on board because airlines know another 100 seats on board would be superfluous and pointless. With the possible exception of Emirates, no airline has come close to wringing an acceptable return on its investment out of the A380.

QED.
"It is difficult to write a paradiso when all the superficial indications are that you ought to write an apocalypse." -Ezra Pound

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https://simpleflying.com/the-a380-operators-that-werent-the-airlines-that-never-got-the-a380/

The A380 Operators that Weren’t: The Airlines that Never Got the A380

The A380 Operators that Weren’t: The Airlines that Never Got the A380 0

When A380 deliveries cease in 2021, over 200 superjumbos will have been operated by 13 airlines all over the world. The operators of the A380 are some of the highest-profile airlines in the world: Singapore Airlines, Emirates and British Airways, just to name a few. But often lesser-known are those airlines that ordered the A380 yet, for a variety of reasons, never took delivery. These are those airlines.

ANA A380ANA’s A380s only came into being because of Skymark’s cancelled orders. Photo: Airbus.

Transaero (Air Accord)

Russian airline Transaero ordered four A380s in 2012, making them the first airline in Russia and Eastern Europe to order the aircraft. The aircraft were to have been in a 3-class configuration seating around 700 passengers. Transaero initially planned to take delivery of their first A380 in late 2015, with reports suggesting that the aircraft would fly from Moscow to Vladivostok and New York. However, the worsening economic situation in Russia severely hurt Transaero’s business, leading to them delaying their first A380 delivery, before ceasing operations in October 2015. Three of Transaero’s orders remain on the Airbus order book, under the label of Air Accord.

An A380 in Transaero livery An A380 in Transaero livery (Airbus)

Virgin Atlantic

All the way back in 2001, Virgin Atlantic ordered six A380s, originally due for delivery in 2006. Yet Virgin Atlantic consistently delayed their order, before it finally disappeared from Airbus’ order total last February. It’s thought that Virgin simply lacked the high-density route network needed to support A380 operations, and instead prefers smaller twinjets. The A350-1000 has replaced the A380 as the flagship of Virgin Atlantic’s fleet.

Rendering of a Virgin Atlantic A380Rendering of a Virgin Atlantic A380 (Airbus)

Kingfisher Airlines

Kingfisher Airlines ordered 5 A380s soon after starting operations in 2005, making them the first (and likely only) airline in India to order the superjumbo. In 2008 they doubled their order to 10 aircraft and asked for Airbus to advance the delivery date on their existing orders to 2009 from 2010/2011. This was an ambitious move for an airline which at that time was not yet allowed to operate internationally. Yet throughout its short history as an airline Kingfisher was never able to make money and in 2012 high debts caught up with the airline and they ceased operations. By 2014, the order was removed from Airbus’ order books.

Air Austral

Air Austral ordered two A380s back in 2009, planning to operate them in an 840-seat all-economy configuration to shuttle passengers on the 11-hour flight between Paris-CDG and its base on Réunion island. However, this plan never came to fruition as they cancelled their order in 2016. However, Air Austral did end up operating the A380 (in a sense) as just last year they leased HiFly’s A380 to fill in for one of their 787s which was having engine issues.

HiFly A380One of Hi Fly’s A380s. Photo: HiFly

Skymark Airlines

Skymark Airlines, then a major Japanese low-cost carrier, ordered six A380s back in 2011, representing a major success for Airbus in the Japanese market that was then highly dominated by Boeing. Despite being a low-cost carrier, Skymark planned to operate the A380 in a low-density, all-premium configuration of only 394 seats (114 business and 280 premium economy). Yet over the next few years Skymark’s financial situation degraded quickly. Skymark wasn’t able to pay for the A380s they had ordered. In 2014, even though Skymark’s first two A380s were already at an advanced stage of production, Airbus cancelled Skymark’s order. Soon afterwards, the airline filed for bankruptcy. The resulting legal drama saw Delta and ANA compete for creditor approval to restructure Skymark. ANA’s proposal succeeded only by them wooing the support for Airbus, one of Skymark’s largest creditors. In exchange, ANA placed an order for three A380s, which will soon enter service.

The first A380 for Skymark in productionThe first A380 for Skymark in production (Airbus)

Hong Kong Airlines

In 2011, Hong Kong Airlines ordered 10 A380s, with the intent of using these aircraft to drive their expansion into Europe. However, this order faced challenges from the beginning. In 2012 HX almost cancelled their order following the European Union’s adoption of a new tax framework for international carriers. Later, the decision by another HNA Group firm, Hong Kong Aviation Capital, to order 70 A320neos and A321neos also put the order into doubt. By March 2014, HX’s orders were listed as being from an “unidentified customer,” and this January they were finally removed from the order book.

International Lease Finance Corporation (ILFC)

ILFC was the first lessor to order the A380, booking 10 airframes in 2001. Yet as seems to be a recurring trend here, ILFC soured on their A380 order. In 2006 ILFC CEO Steven Udvar-Hazy suggested that ILFC could canel their order after Airbus announced major delays in the program. But the order limped along until 2011, when ILFC swapped out their 10 A380s for an order of 75 A320neos and 25 A321neos.

Amedeo

Doric Lease, a predecessor to the Amedeo brand, originally placed this order in 2013. Like ILFC, Amedeo had trouble finding airlines to lease the A380. In 2017, Amedeo proposed creating its own all-A380 airline, to offer the aircraft to traditional airlines, as well as possibly disruptive entrants such as Airbnb. This unusual business plan never came to fruition, and on February 14 Amedeo formally scrapped their order.

The firming of Amedeo's order at the 2014 Singapore Airshow The firming of Amedeo’s order at the 2014 Singapore Airshow (Airbus)

Kingdom Holding Company

Perhaps the most unique A380 order ever placed was Kingdom Holding Company’s order for one VIP variant of the A380 in 2007. The A380 “flying palace” was destined for HRH Prince Alaweed bin Talal, one of the world’s richest individuals. This aircraft continually made headlines for its opulent interior, including a grand staircase and steam room. Nevertheless, in 2013 Prince Alaweed transferred the order to an undisclosed buyer. In 2014, Airbus removed it from the order book for good.

An Airbus rendering of the ACJ380, the A380's VIP variant An Airbus rendering of the ACJ380, the A380’s VIP variant (Airbus)

The A380F: FedEx and UPS

The final two cancelled A380 orders are the two orders for the A380F, the A380’s cancelled cargo variant. FedEx Express was the first to commit to the A380F, ordering 10 aircraft in 2002. UPS Airlines ordered an additional 10 in 2005. But by 2006, production delays and doubts about the aircraft’s usefulness as a cargo carrier doomed the A380’s cargo variant. In November 2006, FedEx cancelled their A380F orders, and instead placed an order for 15 777Fs. In March 2007, UPS followed suit and cancelled their order. Smaller A380F orders from ILFC and Emirates met the same fate. No other airlines ever ordered the A380F.

A FedEx A380FA FedEx A380F (Airbus)

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🛬 British Airways May Buy Second Hand A380’s To Replace Their 747’s
« Reply #9 on: February 21, 2019, 12:02:25 AM »
The 747 didn't get nearly this much coverage when it croaked.

RE

https://simpleflying.com/british-airways-may-buy-second-hand-a380s-to-replace-their-747s/

British Airways May Buy Second Hand A380’s To Replace Their 747’s

Nicholas
February 20, 2019 5:00 pm

With the Airbus A380 set to retire in 2021, many have been saddened by the upcoming end of both the 747 and the A380 in passenger use around the world.

But in an ironic twist of fate, it seems British Airways plans on snapping up as many A380s as possible to fuel their 747 replacement.
BOAC 747


Two British Airways 747 aircraft, one with special BOAC retro livery. The aircraft will stay in its retro livery until it is retired in 2023. Photo: Tom Boon/Simple Flying

What are the details?

Whilst the last A380 will roll off the production line in 2021, the very first A380s are starting to be retired right now. Singapore recently retired four back to their leaseholder, one of which ended up as the new Hi Fly A380, two for spare parts (their engines are worth a fortune) and the last one vanished.

This means there is coming oversupply of second-hand A380 aircraft entering the market (Six Air France A380s are expected to be retired late this year).

News that could be a real boon for British Airways, who are in the midst of retiring their 747 fleet. By replacing their 747 aircraft with A380 aircraft until their newer jets come online in 2022 (18 Airbus A350-1000s, and 12 Boeing 787-10 Dreamliners) British Airways can ensure a smooth transition. And you can bet that these A380 aircraft will be way cheaper than renting/wet-leasing or extending the lifespan of the 747s.


A British Airways A380 takes off.

Why the A380?

But why would British Airways want the A380 over say, a Boeing 777-300ER? What unique challenges does British Airways have that an A380 would useful?

The first is British Airways’ hub airport, London Heathrow. Heathrow is one of the busiest airports in the world, and as such, has no free slots for aircraft to land. The only way for an airline to increase capacity or maintain their capacity is a bigger aircraft like the A380. By using an A380 over a smaller aircraft, British Airways has more tickets to sell and their cost per seat would not go down.

Additionally, British Airways already has 12 A380s in the fleet in service and has plenty of experience in utilizing the aircraft. They would not have to train new pilots, acquire new logistics or even find a new food supplier. Their current A380 infrastructure network could be expanded as each A380 is delivered.


British Airways A380 Business class

Plus, if British Airways starts to fight more competitively on routes against their rival Virgin Atlantic, the A380 might be their secret weapon. They might even acquire the extra capacity to simply deprive Virgin of the chance, who originally had the plane on order years ago.

Lastly, if British Airways were to acquire some of the more premium versions of the A380, say for example the ones with the shower on board, that could be a killer advantage over any competition.
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Re: 🛬 British Airways May Buy Second Hand A380’s To Replace Their 747’s
« Reply #10 on: February 21, 2019, 02:19:36 AM »
The 747 didn't get nearly this much coverage when it croaked.

RE

https://simpleflying.com/british-airways-may-buy-second-hand-a380s-to-replace-their-747s/

British Airways May Buy Second Hand A380’s To Replace Their 747’s
Lastly, if British Airways were to acquire some of the more premium versions of the A380, say for example the ones with the shower on board, that could be a killer advantage over any competition.

I know you that you're following the story as close, if not closer, then I. So it makes me wonder,"How are they get to fill the seats?" Isn't this why the airplane manufacturers are getting out of the business? For lack of demand? I'm just a barely interestied observer, but this article reads as if the British Airways guys Capex don't talk to their operations guys.
"It is difficult to write a paradiso when all the superficial indications are that you ought to write an apocalypse." -Ezra Pound

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Re: 🛬 British Airways May Buy Second Hand A380’s To Replace Their 747’s
« Reply #11 on: February 21, 2019, 02:36:24 AM »
The 747 didn't get nearly this much coverage when it croaked.

RE

https://simpleflying.com/british-airways-may-buy-second-hand-a380s-to-replace-their-747s/

British Airways May Buy Second Hand A380’s To Replace Their 747’s
Lastly, if British Airways were to acquire some of the more premium versions of the A380, say for example the ones with the shower on board, that could be a killer advantage over any competition.

I know you that you're following the story as close, if not closer, then I. So it makes me wonder,"How are they get to fill the seats?" Isn't this why the airplane manufacturers are getting out of the business? For lack of demand? I'm just a barely interestied observer, but this article reads as if the British Airways guys Capex don't talk to their operations guys.

The routes out of Heathrow that the Jumbos fly on are PACKED.  Like London to Berlin for instance.  They can't get any more flight departure times, so they have to increase their seat availibility by using bigger planes.  Will this be economically justified long term?  Likely not of course, but for now they want to increase their numbers.

RE
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Re: 🛬 British Airways May Buy Second Hand A380’s To Replace Their 747’s
« Reply #12 on: February 21, 2019, 04:14:27 AM »
The 747 didn't get nearly this much coverage when it croaked.

RE

https://simpleflying.com/british-airways-may-buy-second-hand-a380s-to-replace-their-747s/

British Airways May Buy Second Hand A380’s To Replace Their 747’s
Lastly, if British Airways were to acquire some of the more premium versions of the A380, say for example the ones with the shower on board, that could be a killer advantage over any competition.

I know you that you're following the story as close, if not closer, then I. So it makes me wonder,"How are they get to fill the seats?" Isn't this why the airplane manufacturers are getting out of the business? For lack of demand? I'm just a barely interestied observer, but this article reads as if the British Airways guys Capex don't talk to their operations guys.

The routes out of Heathrow that the Jumbos fly on are PACKED.  Like London to Berlin for instance.  They can't get any more flight departure times, so they have to increase their seat availibility by using bigger planes.  Will this be economically justified long term?  Likely not of course, but for now they want to increase their numbers.

RE

That may well be so. But I remember reading the BI review of economy travel on an A380 and he described it as excellent/ As for the other seats, the price runs as follows:

Quote
The estimated average ticket cost for first-class private suites in Emirates A380 is around $14, 635 whereas, $9,571 for business class and $1,477 for economy class. Usually, the price of tickets in an Emirates A380 flight depends upon the route or varies from place to place.

That's a lot of buckage for First Class. Are there enough asses for those seats?
Or perhaps the better question is at what capacity and pricing model can they run these planes efficiently? I guess they've run those numbers, and I guess we'll see.
"It is difficult to write a paradiso when all the superficial indications are that you ought to write an apocalypse." -Ezra Pound

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Re: 🛬 British Airways May Buy Second Hand A380’s To Replace Their 747’s
« Reply #13 on: February 21, 2019, 06:07:35 AM »
The 747 didn't get nearly this much coverage when it croaked.

RE

https://simpleflying.com/british-airways-may-buy-second-hand-a380s-to-replace-their-747s/

British Airways May Buy Second Hand A380’s To Replace Their 747’s
Lastly, if British Airways were to acquire some of the more premium versions of the A380, say for example the ones with the shower on board, that could be a killer advantage over any competition.

I know you that you're following the story as close, if not closer, then I. So it makes me wonder,"How are they get to fill the seats?" Isn't this why the airplane manufacturers are getting out of the business? For lack of demand? I'm just a barely interestied observer, but this article reads as if the British Airways guys Capex don't talk to their operations guys.

The routes out of Heathrow that the Jumbos fly on are PACKED.  Like London to Berlin for instance.  They can't get any more flight departure times, so they have to increase their seat availibility by using bigger planes.  Will this be economically justified long term?  Likely not of course, but for now they want to increase their numbers.

RE

That may well be so. But I remember reading the BI review of economy travel on an A380 and he described it as excellent/ As for the other seats, the price runs as follows:

Quote
The estimated average ticket cost for first-class private suites in Emirates A380 is around $14, 635 whereas, $9,571 for business class and $1,477 for economy class. Usually, the price of tickets in an Emirates A380 flight depends upon the route or varies from place to place.

That's a lot of buckage for First Class. Are there enough asses for those seats?
Or perhaps the better question is at what capacity and pricing model can they run these planes efficiently? I guess they've run those numbers, and I guess we'll see.

This is one that Brexit will impact on significantly.  Assuming the Brexit goes through, it will vastly reduce bizness travel out of the City of London.  Those are the people who pay the big bucks for First Class.

RE
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🛬 Death of Aviation: The Airbus A380 vs Boeing 747 – What Plane Is Best?
« Reply #14 on: February 23, 2019, 12:21:10 AM »
I agree with the conclusion here.  I won't spoil it for you though.

RE

https://simpleflying.com/a380-vs-747/

The Airbus A380 vs Boeing 747 – What Plane Is Best?

The Airbus A380 vs Boeing 747 – What Plane Is Best? 4

Many had believed that the A380 was to be the killer of the famous Jumbo Jet, the Boeing 747. But the retirement of the A380 program and freight sales of the Boeing 747 continuing to climb has shown otherwise.

But when both aircraft were at their peak, which was best? The fully loaded 800 seater A380 (in a terrifying all economy configuration) or the long-range 747 with a private cabin on board?

One airline is actually choosing between these two aircraft right now, as a stopgap measure before the next generation aircraft come online.

United OrderUnited retired the B747 in 2017. Photo: United

How will we be comparing the two aircraft?

First, we will be looking at official statistics from both Boeing’s and Airbus’s websites. We will be comparing the latest version of each, the Boeing 747-8 and the latest version of the Airbus A380-800.

Additionally, we will pretend that we are an airline looking for a large capacity aircraft for both passengers AND cargo. Whilst it goes without saying that a Boeing 747 freight variant would easily beat an A380 (as an Airbus cargo variant was never built) we will try to remain fair and imagine that we are primarily a passenger airline first.

We will be looking for the best flexibility and the most cost-effective. Whilst some aircraft might make a better customer experience (quieter engines, better cabins etc) we will try to focus just on the statistics on paper. Additionally, we will assume that both are just as easy to fly as each other.

Airbus vs BoeingAirbus vs Boeing superimposed on top.

Let’s begin!

Airbus A380 vs Boeing 747

Variant 747-8 A380-800
Cockpit crew Two Two
Capacity 410 in 3-class 555. 22F + 96J + 437Y
Exit limit 605 853
Cargo Volume 6,225 cu ft (176 m3) 6,190 cu ft (175.2 m3)
Length 250 ft 2 in / 76.3 m 238 ft 7 in / 72.72 m
Height 63 ft 6 in / 19.4 m 79 ft 0 in / 24.09 m
Wingspan 224 ft 7 in / 68.4 m 261 ft 8 in / 79.75 m
Wing 554 m2 (5,960 sq ft), sweep 37.5°, 8.45 AR 845 m2 (9,100 sq ft), AR 7.53,
 sweep 33.5°
Cabin width 20 ft (6.1 m) 21 ft 4 in (6.5 m)
MTOW 987,000 lb / 447,700 kg 1,268,000 lb / 575 t
OEW 485,300 lb / 220,128 kg 611,000 lb / 277 t
Max. payload 167,700 lb / 76,067 kg 185,000 lb / 84 t
Fuel capacity 63,034 US gal / 238,610 litres 85,472 US gal / 323,546 litres
  426,109 lb / 193,280 kg  559,937 lb / 253,983 kg
Cruise Mach 0.86 (493 kn; 914 km/h) Mach 0.85 (903 km/h; 488 kn)
MMo Mach 0.9 (516 kn; 956 km/h) Mach 0.89 (945 km/h; 511 kn)
Range 8,000 nmi (15,000 km)  8,000 nmi (14,800 km)
Ceiling 43,100 ft (13,100 m) 13,100 m (43,000 ft)
Engines (4×) 66,500 lbf (296 kN) GEnx-2B67 332.44–356.81 kN (74,740–80,210 lbf) GP7200 / Trent 900

For the sake of simplicity, we have not discussed the width of the upper cabins on both aircraft.

Airbus vs BoeingThe upper deck widths of both the Airbus and Boeing aircraft side by side.

Passengers

Without a doubt, the Airbus A380 smokes the 747 right out the gate with passenger capacity. But that’s because it was designed nearly 35-40 years after the Boeing 747 took flight and Airbus knew exactly on what metric to beat them. The addition of so much extra cabin space on board can also mean the A380 has room for bars, showers, lounges, and full private suites. Plus, in a full economy configuration, the A380 can handle 250 more passengers than the 747.

Winner: Airbus A380

Emirates was well known for their lavish A380s, including an onboard bar! Photo: Emirates

Cargo

Cargo is actually a very lucrative source of revenue for airlines, and our airline is no exception. Looking at cargo capacity, the Boeing 747 actually has more capacity on board despite having less powerful engines and less thrust. Airbus has leaned hard into serving passengers and let Boeing slip ahead. Plus we do have to admit that there exists a cargo version of the Boeing 747 that is very popular.

Winner: Boeing 747

Airbus A380FThe Airbus A380F was supposed to carry 150 tons of cargo with a range of 5,600 nm. Photo: Airbus.

Range and fuel capacity

In a shocking first for Simple Flying, both aircraft have almost the same range. Let’s look at fuel capacity instead. Straight away you can see that the Airbus A380 burns through just over 20,000 more US gal’s than the Boeing 747. This is due to the extra 150 or so passengers on board. Logically, these passengers would actually offset the extra fuel cost to fly the same distance and allow the Airbus to be more profitable.

Winner: Airbus A380

Airbus A380 in flightAirbus A380 in flight via Unsplash.

Wait what about fuel efficiency?

Ah yes, just because the Airbus has more fuel doesn’t mean that its any cheaper to run. Let’s look at the below graph.

FuelThis graph keeps on giving. Seriously, I’ve used it every time I’ve done a VS article.

As you can see, the Airbus is better than the Boeing 747-400 (the aircraft it was designed to beat) but further iterations of the Boeing 747 actually are far more efficient (and cost less money per passenger). Thus…

Winner: Boeing 747

Boeing 747The 747-8 looks great on paper!

Which aircraft is more popular?

Let’s look at how the market reacted to both of these aircraft and see if a pattern emerges. We will look at the lifetime of both aircraft.

Boeing 747 orders: 1,548 (Since first flight in 1968, 30 per year)

Airbus A380 orders: 313 (Since first flight in 2007, 26 per year)

…Oh right, and the A380 was canceled. Thus it’s pretty clear that even from a popularity point of view the Boeing 747 was more popular. But that may have been from it being a proven aircraft with nearly 40 years experience on the A380.

Winner: Boeing 747

QantasQantas 747 comes in to land in Perth Airport.

What about the cost?

Here is the list price for each aircraft:

Airbus A380 – $445.6 million

Boeing 747-8 – $402.9 million

The Boeing 747 is actually cheaper to buy and cheaper to operate. It might be smaller in terms of passenger capacity, but in a world where passengers want smaller aircraft that fly point to point, is that $45 million extra really worth it (that’s almost $300,000 per extra passenger, which you will need to make over the lifetime).

Granted if the A380 had been popular enough to reach higher production capacity, the price might have fallen. But we don’t live in that world.

Lastly, it’s likely that Airbus would have price matched the 747 for any customer (as they are known to do).

Winner: Boeing 747

British Airways 747British Airways 747

Which is best?

To this author, the A380 was the realization of a dream. A giant floating village that could fly across continents with entertainment, lounges and more. But the world moved on. Passengers today look for smaller airlines that can fly from their regional airport to another regional airport, and giant flying laputas just don’t have a place anymore. If an airline can fill up an entire A380, then it can be a huge profit driver but that is becoming increasingly rare.

Winner: Boeing 747

It’s for this reason that the smaller capacity 747 just seems to win out. But it is a hollow victory, as night is setting on the Jumbo Jet. The new aircraft (The Boeing 777x and the Airbus A350) almost match capacity but with massive improvements in design, cost, and fuel efficiency.

Save As Many As You Can

 

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