State of the Airlines

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

NEWS: The A380 Gamble

While this is not directly related to airlines it will be soon enough. The corporate buzz machine that is Airbus unveiled their new behemoth, the A380, amidst lots of pomp and circumstance. While there continues to be a lot of speculation as to whether this aircraft has a place in the new airline world order Airbus is sprinting ahead touting the aircraft as the answer to life the universe and everything. They point to the 149 orders for this yet to be flown aircraft as proof that they are on the right track. Airbus claims the A380 will offer better range, lower operating costs and the holy grail of improved cost per passenger when compared to its closest competitor the Boeing 747. And the comparison is startling. The A380 in 3 class configuration will carry 555 passenger, one-third more than a 747. In full economy you are talking 800 people!'s your reality check. Reality #1: All of the Airbus claims to better range, fuel efficiency and costs are based on design calculations. The aircraft has not even left the ground yet. I'll wait for a flight test before buying into the hype. Reality #2: Name the number of airports that are ready to deal with this beast of an aircraft and the number of passengers it carries. The answer, right now, is probably none. The 747 delivers enough passengers at once to challenge even the largest airports ability to process people and luggage. The larger airports will need to invest millions (lots of millions)to upgrade facilities. How many of them will decide its just not worth it? In my book there is a lot to be proven before the A380 can be considered the next revolution in airline history.

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