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  • 17

Oversize Expectations for the Airbus A380

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Only one airline — Emirates — has made the plane a central element of its global strategy. (www.nytimes.com) 更多...

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ColinSeftel
I think Emirates have got it right - success in the airline business is not only about economics - it's also about customer satisfaction and differentiating yourself from the competition. Five of the top ten airlines as rated by Skytrax (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Skytrax#Best_Airline_Award) are flying or have ordered A-380s. There is not a single US Airline on the list.
Doobs
Dee Lowry 1
You know...I'm wondering if the A-380 could take on the challenge of flying into "Kai Tak", with a major crosswind! Guess we'll never know. Would have been fun to watch!
duncanspence
There are enough videos out there of A380 crosswind landings- how do you think the aircraft got its certification?
Doobs
Dee Lowry 1
I'm talking about "Kai Tak", the old Hong Kong airport. It would have been fun to watch the "Beast" take it on.
duncanspence
John Donaldson, can you name another international point-to-point since from a major city/hub (tokyo) to simply another city does not qualify. Point to point would be from a city that is not a hub!!!!!!!!!!
canuck44
canuck44 1
I guess it depends on your definition of hub and point to point. For example we have Air Berlin doing what Emirates does but into smaller markets like RSW to Dusseldorf bypassing MIA and FRA. Like the JAL example, DUS is the third busiest airport in Germany but nowhere near FRA and MUN that would be expected to support A-380 service RSW and MCO are not hubs but end markets.

Cancun and Orlando are end destinations and have flights to many secondary markets such as Manchester. In Canada, Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Ottawa and Halifax airports bypass the big three markets. Many point to point flights are now in seasonal markets and they all rob the traditional hubs.
duncanspence
John I would agree- Manchester, UK to Calgary, AB is more what I would consider point-to-point. However, there are all sorts of issues with this especially when it comes to the ultra long and thin. The first is curfew times. Matching a departure city's curfew times with that of an arrival city is extremely challenging even without ultra long flights leading to very nasty departure or arrival times with almost no time to turn the aircraft around often necessitating the aircraft lying idle. The flyer loses out on frequency. Next is issues like technical delays. The turn around time will in any case be challenging, but when you do point-to-point you don't have spare crews or aircraft to easily swap out like you do with hub operations. Ultra long haul also requires exponential increases in crew rest time and in the number of cabin crew and cockpit crew that you have on board. Crucially, you have to look at the shear number of aircraft you need to perform hub point to point "The H&S system serves network destinations with the fewest routes of any alternative design. For example, five destinations require only four routes with one hub and four spoke cities but ten routes are required if the same destinations are connected with a point-to-point system. Consequently, for any given level of frequency and number of destinations, the H&S system requires the fewest number of aircraft (Button, 2002b)." That's why the hub-and-spoke is here to stay.
duncanspence
I am also not quite sure that you can compare the construction of a b787 to a large heavy like a B747 or A380. I work at the Everett plant and can tell you that it is a night and day difference between the amount of time it takes to build a large heavy compared to something like a B787. Orders are not simply dictated by how many orders you can take, it is also how many production slots are available to meet the customer's desired in-service date. Indeed, it is likely that the B787 orders flat-lined for six years was because you would have to wait until something like 2021 before you would get your first aircraft. For many airlines that sort of long-term planning is just not realisitic.
duncanspence
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/timeline/07e9341e124a443a53e5bd2014a7e453.png
canuck44
canuck44 1
There is nothing here that has not been predicted by contributors to this forum except confirmation with the passage of time. The JAL Tokyo to San Diego is a perfect example and every three hundred passengers that utilize the point to point route with the 787 empties seats on the A-380. Every 787 series aircraft Boeing puts out (and eventually the A-350) chips away at the available market for the Super Jumbo.

There may well be a comfortable ride, but unless I am transiting hub to hub, point to point on a Dreamliner will be my choice for rushing around to catch connections subtracts from the comfortable ride.
duncanspence
My point is John, apart from a few low cost carrier examples point to point simply did not develop- and won't ever. That was supposed to happen after US deregulation in 1979- every airline that tried it went out of business. The hub and spoke is here to stay and for good reasons. Just see what the CEO of the world's most profitable airline has to say about hub and spokes http://airchive.com/blog/2014/06/26/the-view-from-the-top-an-interview-with-deltas-ceo-richard-anderson/
wopri
Same for me John, I'll take a point-to-point over a hub-to-hub-to-destination anytime, but so far there is a limited choice of direct flights from where I live to where I want to go. That leaves me with two options, fly hub-to-hub-to destination or stay home.
duncanspence
Point to point is a very nice concept. I fly ONT-CHS on a regular basis and often have to change twice. Very annoying if the ground time is long. Whether I would like to go on a 17 non-stop international flight over one with a break in it is another matter. However, passenger preference is a totally different driver to what makes economic sense to an airline. Here's an interesting article comparing the two models
http://commons.erau.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1443&context=jaaer
wopri
Interesting indeed, and it seems to me right in the conclusion that there are not many pure point-to-point or hub-and-spoke systems. As a passenger I prefer any way of transport that brings me where I want to go with the least hassle and at a price I'm willing to pay, as I pay with my own money.

As for the 17 hour non-stop flight, I fly occasionally from Montreal to Windhoek.


My choices are:
a) fly to the US, catch a 17 hour flight to Johannesburg, sleep for one night and catch a morning flight to Windhoek.

Not only is this a drag, but it also means I've to go through the tender loving care of TSA agents and US Border control which seems to inch ever closer to the service standards of the old Soviet Union.


b) Fly overnight to any major European airport, wait the whole day to take the 10 hour overnight flight to Johannesburg and catch a morning flight to Windhoek.

A variation to this is to catch the Frankfurt-Windhoek flight by Air Namibia. I've not tried this yet, but I don't count it out. Air Namibia uses a pair of less than two year old A332 and their onboard service seems to be ok from what I hear.

Either way, this gets me away from TSA and US Border control. (May I mention that I've been trough Tel Aviv, and though security is tight and the procedures lengthy, the attitude is so much better.)


I guess you can understand why I've never used choice a form my travels.
wopri
correction: "choice a for my travels"
duncanspence
Duncan Spence -1
I have to smile when journalists harp on about the lack of A380 orders (actually an impressive x70 in the last year, minus 6 annulments). Their darling B787 has for 2014 27 orders and the six years from the beginning of 2007 until the announcement of the B787-10 amassed a massive 31 sales.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Boeing_787_orders_and_deliveries
davidrbarnes
Maybe I failed math class, but "the six years from the beginning of 2007 until the announcement of the B787-10" which would be 2007-2012, your own link shows 400 net sales.

And you fail to note that the A380 shows a backlog of 318 orders, compared to over 1000 for the B787 (all variants). So how, again, does the A380 stack up? Perhaps you can return to enlighten me and and the rest of the FA community with an explanation of your "math".

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Airbus_A380_orders_and_deliveries#Orders_by_year
duncanspence
I think we must be looking at a different chart David. The order tally in 2007 was 817. In 2012, 6 years later the cumulative total had increased to 848. That's net sale of 31 aircraft. I'm not seeing where your 400 net sales is coming from.
davidrbarnes
From the table above the graph: 369+93-59-4+13-12=400

Or from the graph: 848-448=400 (End of 2012-End of 2006, a total of six years).

369 orders were made in 2007, so you're saying 6 years but only counting 5, arbitrarily ignoring a huge sales year. 817 orders represents end of year accounting, in this case.

Further, you failed address the backlog difference. I admit my math error on that front; the 787 backlog is 887 (I failed to account for delivered aircraft) and the A380 is at 180.

As Duncan Spence mentioned above, the slowdown after 2007 was partly due to extremely long lead times to get in the production queue.

Either way, the market demand clearly lies on the side of the 787, especially if you consider, as the article did, that Emirates accounts for close to half of the orders on the A380.
duncanspence
And Tim Clark the EK CEO did say that he would have bought more aircraft if Airbus could have built them fast enough
davidrbarnes
One airline, no matter how loyal or large, can't support an entire aircraft design.
duncanspence
David if you look at the B777x orders over 50% of them are from one airline EK
duncanspence
David, your math error is still wrong. The number is for cumulative total of orders. That wasn't at all talking about outstanding orders. The point I was trying to make is that the darling of the press, until the -10 launch was at the time as equally in the doldrums as the A380 with a paltry 6-7 orders per year over 5-6 years
davidrbarnes
369 is paltry? I guess whatever makes your point.
duncanspence
I think the graph is easy enough to read.. And now where is this 369 coming from- just read the graph please.
davidrbarnes
Higher math, called subtraction. 817-448=369, which is the number of (net) orders placed in 2007. Just read the graph, please. (Or maybe it's not "easy enough to read"...)

Again, are you ignoring the 2007 orders just to make a point? Your original message, way back a week ago, said, "...six years from the beginning of 2007..." So you must include 2007 orders for your assertion to be valid.

Further, if you look at the table one inch above that graph of yours, the 369 is CLEARLY listed as the quantity of 2007 orders:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Boeing_787_orders_and_deliveries#Orders_and_deliveries_by_type_and_year

You can deny this math all you want, but the 787 had a banner year in 2007, earning more orders in that one year than the A380 has had in it's entire history.
duncanspence
Point taken, from the end of 2007 until the middle of 2013 they has 31 orders
Doobs
Dee Lowry -6
Personally, I think Airbus pushed the envelope with the A-380. No airport facility can accommodate that huge bird...except Dubai.
They built a special terminal for it...including a shopping mall! IMHO... Less is more.
wopri
Yes, they pushed the envelope, but it does fly to many airports, so I don't understand why you say that "No airport facility can accommodate that huge bird...except Dubai."
I took it for a flight from Paris to Montréal, and all I can say is that it was a very comfortable ride.
Doobs
Dee Lowry 1
Took me awhile...but do you want the knife back that you put in my back? For your information, Wolfgang- the world doesn't revolve around you or your "flight schedule". There will always be a "hub to hub" to get to remote destinations. As far as the A-380- there are more Airlines bailing out of the "Big Bird". They will opt to go with the B-787/777 because of frequency. Plus being more cost effective and "turnaround time". Keeping the Aircraft in the air equals profit. You can fill a 787/777 . The A-380 takes off with 80-85% capacity. Every empty seat is a loss of revenue. The bigger the aircraft, the more vulnerable it is to competitive market forces. Emirates is really the only airline that has pulled it off because the A-380 fits their network. Good day.
wopri
Again I fail to understand you. I don't see the knife I put in your back. I simply questioned your assertion that no airport facility except Dubai can accommodate A380. You see them in many airports, not just Dubai. As for the world not turning around me, I actually knew that before you mentioned to me. But civil aviation turns around passengers and/or freight, without them there is no aviation. As a passenger I don't care what plane I'm sitting in, as long as it brings me safely to my destination with the least hassle and a for a price I'm willing to pay. I'm certain that this is the case for most people, and in that sense aviation turns around the passenger, even though the world does not turn around me.

The A380 and the B747 are simply tools to do a specific job, as are B777/787, the Dash 8 or any other aircraft. Future will tell if the A380 was the wrong tool to offer right now, and I think you have a much better argument if you say that only major hubs have enough passenger volume to justify their use. That is quite different from "only Dubai". I even have an example to support your argument, Air France pulled off their A380 from the Paris-Montreal run as they could not fill enough of the business seats. They put it on the Paris-Johannesburg run instead where business seat are filled close to capacity most of the time.
duncanspence
But for frequency you need landing slots, they are either unavailable, or expensive and in short supply at many of the world's top destinations, so I don't think the frequency argument will hold out over time. 16 of the the world's bigger airlines have signed up for the A380 as their flag ship. Countless others operate a huge number of B747-400 (quite a staple of long distance travel outside of US carriers) and neither US carriers (nor emirates) signed up very much for the B747-400 pax either. You could equally say to your argument that the more aircraft you have in your fleet the the more vulnerable you are to competitive market forces. You will certainly need a lot more cockpit crews. The point is, that a first/business class on an a380 is always 85% full and that is where the money is. It holds a HUGE amount more of these high revenue seats, and as for ground time it is no more than a B747. All I can say is that you need to go to LAX or London and see the rows and rows of A380 at their gates. Dubai is by no means the only airport that can accommodate them.
Doobs
Dee Lowry 2
I agree with you on some points, Duncan. I feel in the aviation environment, as it is now, that airlines have to look at what aircraft will generate the profit. There aren't many airport facilities that can accommodate "the Beast", except for major hubs. It's the airline that has to incur the cost of providing a parking spot at the terminals. I have to disagree with the "turnaround" time. An A-380 vs a B-747 are totally different birds. The only airline that I know of that can turn a 380 around, in a matter of 45 minutes, is Korean Air. They have 40+ employees that do it and they do it well. I'm sure Emirates is the same. The A-380 is their "baby"! It's a money maker for them. Of course, the government most likely subsidizes the airline. That's where the oil is! Kind of like getting an employee discount or a free pass. They have a lean workforce comparable to a low cost carrier and a organized structure that allows the airline to maintain overhead costs. Emirates is a solely a wide-body fleet. A-380's and B-777's. There isn't an employee union...so they can keep their employees at bay. Numerous employees are from India and Pakistan are working for them. No problem with union contracts or pay. Makes a big difference in this industry.
duncanspence
I agree with your points. Emirates will argue though that since they are not a major oil producing nation that the price of fuel they pay is mute and that they pay the same as everyone else (have to take their word on that one) But 45 min turnaround on an A380 is very impressive. I worked for both British Airways and Lufthansa at outstations for over 30 years and the lowest scheduled turnaround time I ever saw published was 1.45. EK claim they do not get subsidized (have to take their word on that too) and none of the whinging airlines have ever put forward evidence that the do- only press accusations, with nothing offered to back it up. But yes, indeed- unimpeded by labor practices and laws and hence lower overheads and a model that is purely wide-body. So yes, that makes a big difference. But they still manage to entice top professionals to pilot their aircraft and maintain a AAA rating in safety. But Turkish Airlines (the real one to watch) has 100 countries to its destination list. More than any other airline. Showing that the H&S for international flights is the way everyone (except boeing) is betting their money. It's woth reading the following "....Experts say ultra-long range planes deliver mixed benefits to airlines and so far the market for them remains a niche, overshadowed by the juggernauts designed for trunk routes.

That is because when modern aircraft fly the longest 15-hour flights, the first few hours are spent mostly burning the fuel needed to carry even more fuel for the rest of the flight.

These aircraft "carry more fuel to carry more fuel," said consultant Richard Aboulafia of Virginia-based Teal Group.

"They need a very big wing with lots of (fuel storage) capacity, which means lots of structure and weight."

Fuel is not the only source of extra weight. The long journey times also mean loading extra meals and a reserve crew, so that the fuel burned per hour - a measure of efficiency - can end up greater than if the plane simply stopped en route.

Airlines must balance this against any extra revenue they can charge for a direct flight and the ability to eliminate the fuel wasted in climbing and descending twice, as well as en-route landing fees and other costs linked to a stopover.

NICHE MARKET

Proof that ultra-long haul is not for everyone is contained in a quick comparison of sales for comparable existing models.

Boeing has sold 59 of its 777-200LR endurance jet, which entered service in 2007, compared with 687 of the shorter-range but highly popular 777-300ER.

Air India has announced plans to sell five 777-200LR's and one industry source said some or all could end up being acquired by the government for VIP transport. Air India declined comment.

Before the 777-200LR, the industry's previous long-distance record-holder, the Airbus A340-500, was capable of flying 9000 nautical miles (13,480km) on polar routes yet notched up fewer than 40 sales.

Production was halted in 2011, driven also by a wider slowdown in sales for all but the largest four-engine aircraft.
Yesterday at 7:46am · Like
Doobs
Dee Lowry 1
Back in the day when Airbus came into play with the"Big Boys" at Boeing, Airbus basically gave the airplanes away, just to make a sale. Some Airlines ate this opportunity up. It was all about "Quantity" not "Quality". Airlines tend to over-extend themselves and usually it backfires for the company. Their mental process was "bigger is better". Well that theory didn't go so well for many US airlines and resulted in loss of revenue and ultimately it's demise...or merger just to keep their nose above the water. Why do US airlines go bankrupt? Deregulation planted that seed. Who would have thought that PanAm would go under? United and American...both were the heavy weights in the domestic airspace. Competition to be #1 lead both to bankruptcy, therefore, merging with the "light weight" airlines just to keep them in the air. Bigger is Better? Every Airline has to look at their network and fly the appropriate flying machine that will generate profit for that route. It"s a number crunch. I've been in the Aviation industry for 40+ years and I have seen the rise and fall of this industry. Passengers are more demanding and they're asking why didn't I get a free upgrade to First Class. Then they go ballistic. After these "mileage programs" were introduced, I thought... this isn't going to work. Now the airlines are implementing "Cost vs Mileage". Makes sense to me and I think the airlines finally...after all these years...giving First Class tickets away wasn't the brightest thing to do. I'm getting off the track here and I apologize. I may be singled out but I am so grateful that we are able to travel the world. May I just add...the B-777X will take over the skies. The B-747 is going out to pasture and we will see a new "Queen of the skies"!

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