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Airbus 380 - A brilliant move or a mistake by the plane maker?

Airbus 380 - A brilliant move or a mistake by the plane maker?

May 28th, 2004, 02:42 PM
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Airbus 380 - A brilliant move or a mistake by the plane maker?

Up to just few months ago, it seemed that Airbus could do no wrong, but now it seems like there are cracks in the bright future of the company.

1st Q 2004 orders fall sharply - according to http://news.airwise.com/stories/2004/04/1081270549.html

Virgin Atlantic pushes back deliveries of A380 by a year or more according to - http://news.airwise.com/stories/2004/05/1084789460.html

And to add insult to an injury, German Court stopped the construction to runway extension needed in the manufacture of the super-jumbo plane, according to this - http://news.airwise.com/stories/2004/05/1084999247.html

So, the question is this. We all know the plane will fly soon, and that's not something that's going to change, unless there is a economic disaster in the world, but how succesful will the program be?

I hope to fly on this giant soon, but personally I have reservations as to it's usefullness at this time.

What do you think?
AAFrequentFlyer is offline  
May 28th, 2004, 03:25 PM
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With a lot of planes idled for varying periods of time over the last few years and many major carriers worldwide still bleeding red ink, it wouldn't seem like an opportune time to roll out a big, new aircraft. That said, the planes now in service will continue to come to the end of their useful lifetimes and carriers are anxious to show their customers that they are using state-of-the-art equipment. For routes with the passenger demand to justify it, the A380 will provide a high-capacity alternative that carriers will have to carefully evaluate. If the cost per passenger mile is attractive and the market conditions warrant it, then Airbus certainly has the track record in the industry to make some sales. (But I can't wait to see one of those things unload just ahead of my arrival and then have the passengers beat me to passport control, can you? LOL!)
Flyboy is offline  
May 28th, 2004, 04:10 PM
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I have not been keeping up with the discussions, but do remember the excitement when these super-jumbos were announced.

"It is too early to expect an upturn in orders," said Steve East, an aerospace analyst at CSFB in London. "I think there is too much capacity in the active and parked fleet."

Is there ever! Air Canada, I know, is probably a bad example, because of all their troubles, but they are consolidating flights and canceling routes like crazy. I doubt that they will be ordering new planes anytime soon and they yet were certainly considering it for their Asian routes pre-2001. They are switching planes on an ad-hoc basis (I expect the Airbus 340, and they replace it with an ancient 767 that Canadian purchased second-hand from Nippon Air 10 years ago).

The massive traffic of IT professionals that used to commute back and forth to Europe, from Monday to Friday, has diminished substantially. An indication of that is that this year AC reduced their requirement for Super Elite status from its normal threshold of 100,000 miles to 75,000 miles. We were the high revenue generating passengers that buy either business class or Y class economy. The holiday passengers are now smart enough to find the lower fares on the 'net and, in general, have no loyalty (not meant in any pejorative sense) to any one airline, they just want a low fare and are quite prepared to accept the bad conditions, poor service and lost luggage.

I believe the major airlines (pre 2001) were assuming that airfares would continue to increase, for the passengers they wanted to cater for; the passengers that were willing to pay higher fares to get a bit of luxury. The airlines did not plan for the economic downturn or 9/11 (both out of their control) but I also think they did not anticipate the effect of the internet and the power of the intelligent traveler (which they SHOULD have anticipated). I remember having conversations (pre 2001) with two major airlines and their plans, and I think the plans of many of the major carriers, were to segment their markets into high-yield passengers (moi, as a business traveler) and the holiday passengers, develop and then sell off the lost cost airline, after it had achieved a brand name, and then concentrate on the business traveler. Well the Ryanairs and Easyjets beat them to the holiday market and the business market shrank, almost without trace!

Where is the market for these aircraft? The 747s are still flying (and I still love them) and the originals were built in the late 60s, I think. I am sure most airlines have a glut of parked aircraft and are consolidating and canceling routes like crazy in order to increase the revenue per seat. Airport modifications are required for these new jets; to runways and embarkation areas, that no-one is willing or even able to invest in.

Worst case scenario: If there is a market for these super-jumbos, in the near-term, then it is most likely with the low-cost airlines like Ryan Air and they won't flying 550 passengers, they will be flying 750 passengers, in extreme discomfort, parking them just off the runway, bringing double-decker buses to pick them up and asking passengers to crawl into the hold and reclaim their own luggage. Just joking, I hope!

Regards Ger
OReilly is offline  
May 28th, 2004, 10:27 PM
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It is well-knon, and has been for some time, that the airline industry has too many (empty) seats flying vs. the demand. In the US the laws of supply and demand have continually been thwarted by government intervention with loans and subsidies to often very inefficient air operations for a variety of purely political and other reasons.

As someone recently noted, in the long run it would probably be better if one or two of the airlines that filed for bankruptcy stayed there..forever!

In the context of all that, having any sort of intelligent discussion about "what if" is probably frustrating at the very least, and without significant influence on any carrier's operations, futile at the very best. Enjoy them while they fly is probably all you can ever hope to do.
May 29th, 2004, 01:41 AM
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Can you imagine what it's going to be like in the terminals,and how long it's going to take to check in, screen, load & unload these planes.
mgmargate is offline  
May 29th, 2004, 02:29 AM
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mgmargate, you took the words out of my mouth.

I suspect these planes were conceived to fly only on selected routes, much like the now-defunct Concorde. The relevant airports would have to be able to have the ability to attach multiple passenger disembarkation tubes (what ARE those things called, by the way?) to the plane simultaneously, and to have the staff on hand to handle huge boluses of people coming in/out at one time. It's even conceivable that the plane would be forbidden to land or take off at peak times, when staff and resources are already stretched, particularly at airports like Heathrow.

In answer to AA's question, I think this plane is going to be a bust economically, just as the Concorde was. It is simply too inflexible an arrangement.
Sue_xx_yy is offline  
May 29th, 2004, 03:29 AM
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Hello sue xx yy:Not sure what tubes are called.Iv'e often wished airlines would allocate some of their flights to 1 class comfortable seating flights to long haul destinations ie: half as many seats as are used now & charged more $.There are a lot of people who would pay twice the current coach fair but not the ridiculous first& business fares.
mgmargate is offline  
May 29th, 2004, 03:57 AM
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I hear you, I would cheerfully pay to have even a little more room. Unfortunately I suspect the configuration of first class/economy is determined in part by how many planes the airlines can actually fly per day to certain major airports with limited landing slots, especially LHR (London Heathrow). This might explain the interest in bigger planes, but of course this brings its own problems, as you pointed out.
Sue_xx_yy is offline  
May 29th, 2004, 05:08 AM
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Sue-the "passenger disembarkation tubes" you are referring to are called jetways.
May 29th, 2004, 07:36 AM
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At last I know what those things are! Thanks.
Sue_xx_yy is offline  
May 29th, 2004, 08:30 AM
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I'd hate to be a gate agent the day one of those flights is cancelled! Imagine a crowd of 600 people waiting to be rebooked! It could take 5 days to clear the stand-by list!

jnn1964 is offline  
May 29th, 2004, 08:37 AM
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no prob! you very succinctly described the thing.

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