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Air France A380s in doubt put Airbus goals further out of reach.

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Toulouse — Air France-KLM Group said it’s exploring plans to drop orders for A380 superjumbos, in a possible blow for Airbus SAS’s flagship model that’s losing favour with customers from Australia to the U.K. (www.montrealgazette.com) 기타...

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rklima
The 747-8 is an extension of a design that is now over 40 years old. Research and development costs have long since been recovered. This program is trailing off as should be expected. The A380 is a new program which is having trouble gaining traction. These are two vastly different scenarios.
canuck44
canuck44 2
Lots of folks on this forum predicted this. Point to point service with fuel efficient long range aircraft steals customers from hub to hub service. Each airline now looks to find a niche to utilize an aircraft this big that cannot access secondary markets directly. While it might make sense for Emirates at the moment, ultimately they too will be bypassed by much of their current market customers as smaller long range aircraft join the fleets.
preacher1
Back in the day, when this beast was first conceived, it was touted as a flying cattle car, handling 800+ pax on high density routes between hubs. The airlines looked past that and went with the lavish interiors and lower pax count, as well as flying routes that were really never intended. For that, you can't blame Airbus or the plane. The Airlines are responsible and things are as they are because of their greed. Unfortunatly, Airbus & the plane will suffer.
PhotoFinish
BTW I don't believe Airbus was on the sidelines disinterested, when the airlines were busy ordering flagship luxury aircraft rather than cattle car aircraft. I would be very surprised if Aurbus staff wasn't part of the sales pitch that sold the first few luxury flagships AND then every other 'you don't want to be left behind without a luxury flagship' sale thereafter.

The airlines will suffer because they bought Airbus' sales pitch, hook, line and sinker. Airbus may suffer as airlines delay, defer and/or cancel orders and don't initiate new orders. But the airlines are the the ones stuck paying the operational costs for as long as they keep the planes in their fleet. They are paying the loan/ acquisition cost to keep them on the ground and the fuel cost to keep them in the sky.

Maybe some airline(s) will wise up and sell their A380s to be concerted into cattle cars to fly Beijing-Shanghai and similar routes that have both the passengers and severe operational restrictions (airports, airspace).

The problem is that one plane could fly back and forth several times on that route, so the number of planes that cab be repurposed there would be limited (which is a central part of the use case problem to begin with).

Also, forget about quick turns, when you're boarding 800+ pax, and then deplaning the same number at the other end. The only thing worse then filling the plane, is not filling it (which is the other major use case that the plane is struggling with, even at capacities much lower than the initial cattle car configurations presented to make them seem economical to operate).

Which brings up the third issue. They just cost so much to operate.
preacher1
Well, I said when it was CONCEIVED. LOL
rbhallett
Thanks for your comments. You said: "...Also, forget about quick turns, when you're boarding 800+ pax, and then deplaning the same number at the other end."

I don't understand why the big hub airports can't be more pro-active in assisting to transit so many pax on/off planes by utilising *all* doors. Some airbridge setups do 2 doors, but I don't know which airports clamp four airbridges onto these heavies to really exit pax in a hurry. If they are happy to dig up the apron, taxiways, runways to accommodate the heavies, why not revamp the gatelounge pods and airbridges, too?
PhotoFinish
You can spend the many to add 2-4 air bridges to certain 'super' friendly gates. But it'll cost money.

But then you also have to have more cleaning cews, more baggage handlers, more food service workers and all the extra equipment that all these extra staff need just to try to 'compress' your gate time. All thise cost money.

Now imagine, you get several A380s arrive at almost the same time. Not only do you have to have enough gates that prepared to handle the larger size of the A380, but also be retrofitted with the extra air bridges, and have staff zed equipment ready and available to drop everything else, and get busy on the A380s.

And don't get me started on having to monitor the 2-3 baggage carousels needed to handle all the luggage in a shorter time frame and/or having to wait that much longer for all those other bags to pass before you can get your own.

And last but not least, if you were on the tail end of a bunch of A380 arrivals in a short time frame that were all 'fast' deplaned at high cost with lots of bridges and staff and baggage carousels, that infinitely-long immigration line is going to make you regret how quickly all those monstrous planes were unloaded at great cost.

There is just a cost to convenience when moving lots of passengers in one plane. You can throw resources at the problem, but the additional expenditure doesn't erase the cost to convenience just from the bulk of numbers.

It would seem that airlines may prefer that A380s not disgorge their entire capacity of passengers too quickly. It may be easier on their staff and facilities for passengers to trickle out more slowly over a longer period of time. All of which, makes fast turns inconvenient and costly, if not outright impossible.

So yes, you'll see many airports occupy 2 gates for A380s and use both gates' bridges, but that alone won't fix all the problems.
rbhallett
That's quite right - but it is just moving the slow-down filter back with the aircraft which has a finite space, instead of within the terminal that has far more capacity to manage crowds. It all has to do with queuing theory (and practice).
So the place where you put the filter depends on your priorities and where you are prepared to carry the cost/loss of convenience. Gate-lounge, immigration/customs (international routes, baggage hall - or back on the aircraft. Might as well leave them in their seats for a while longer - after all, with 4 doors instead of 2, you are only going to save about 15 minutes. - Oh and 15 minutes loading. Heck - that is half an hour per plane per sector. Hmmm..... Now, how long are we going to wait for that lost passenger? :-)
PhotoFinish
All things being equal, it's just easier to have 2 separate flights on more modern, efficient planes.

That provides the opportunity to provide more frequencies and spread them out over time or divide them between cities of origin. The flexibility allows the offering to more closely and more efficiently match demand.

With more flights, passengers increasingly get the opportunity to fly from their own origination city and/or a choice of travel time. Also forces them less to travel through a larger hub onto larger planes with large numbers of passengers.

Having separate flights coming in from separate cities and/or at separate times from the same city, allows better use of the 'larger' terminal space to better manage the movement of people and baggage.

Airlines can choose to just put fewer seats on the 'super-sized' plane and use it as a luxury flagship. But then that kills the economic advantage of having so much room on the plane. You now must divide the cost of moving that 'super-sized' plane over a relatively smaller number of passengers.

Again the smaller, more efficient planes seem like a better solution. Not surprisingly, they are back ordered for years, while 'super-sized' aircraft orders are largely flat.
PhotoFinish
The airlines that think of themselves as elite world class airlines that want to compete for the select international travelers, didn't want to be left behind as a seemingly new flagship aircraft was getting a foothold in some competitors' fleets.

But now, as they are stuck with the monstrosities, finding a route to operate them profitably is a challenge for many/most A380 operators.

There are only a handful of hub to hub routes, that these birds can comfortably be used on, with any chance at recovering the cost to fly them. But even then, deploying a plane with such large capacity, will put a dent in the frequencies that the route will accommodate.
preacher1
Yep, it's just too dang big. Of course the 747 was already out there and well accepted. Personally, I think this beast was more of a swipe at Boeing to take that BIGGEST title than anything else. Boeing, with their experience & wisdom, knew it was too big. They stretched the 747 and revamped it and tried to keep the 787 program on track. Over the course of time, their decision will be proven to be the right one.
PhotoFinish
The 8 was a reactionary stretch that was done only as a competitive move, to not cede the segment entirely to Airbus. This market segment will never support many planes, at least not for a very, very long time (if ever). And by then, probably not with a 4-engine plane.
preacher1
Lots of difference in development costs though. With the platform there, basically Boeing didn't have any, compared to AB on the 380.
PhotoFinish
Yes, true. But I was surprised how much the 8's development did cost. Probably correlates to the improvements in operational costs. Which may be why there are new orders being announced for the 747-8.
preacher1
Who knows. LOL
pilot62
ENTER THE TWO ENGINE 47
PhotoFinish
I think they call it the 777X.

Doesn't have that same look as the old queen, but it'll further erode any market for the 47 and the 380.

Maybe after the 87 and 77 rollouts, Boeing could roll out an actual 2-engine 47, just past the capacity of the biggest 77. It would have many more takers than today's 4-engined 47 and 380 combined.
Scrape
Scrape 4
Slap three of 777's massive engines on a 747, L-1011 style, and we a have the triumphant return of the tri-jet!
siriusloon
Sure, nothing to it. Any good engineer could design what would be a completely new airframe structure from nose to tail so as to accomodate radically different weight/balance and thrust lines, in a weekend.

It's amazing that Boeing hasn't already done this. I can't imagine why not.
IanGuy
Ian Guy 1
Gees, nice to see the Anti-Euro stance is still alive and well.

The A380 is doing a fine job; the issue is, and continues to be, that the likes of Emirates are killing other carriers on the long haul Europe to Asia and beyond markets. They are able to under cut on fares and the A380 is attractive in terms of being 'new', offering increased leg room and passenger comfort. In addition they are making a killing on freight too - having the extra premium seats allows them to sell more cargo space.

Give me the B777 over the 744 any day.
avihais
Boeing is slowing down orders after 43 years of commercial flight, partially competition and mostly foresight into the more economic viability of twin engine aeroplanes. The A380 is far from break even and buyers are pulling out or putting back orders as there are very few profitable routes and capacity capable airports. During it's development the economy was not looking good and one wonders why they did not stop. Seems like the Concorde all over again selling to AF for a dollar each - to proud to pull out. Too late now - Much success with other Airbus models which again is the economic viability of the twins.
PhotoFinish
Can't say that I'm one bit surprised.

The fact that so many carriers are deferring A380 deliveries indicates that the plane is not living up to expectations.

That 787 operators can't get their 787 deliveries fast enough after deploying the aircraft in their fleets, shows that the 787 has a much better value proposition and a bright future.

[For reference, I expect that the A350 will be more like the 787, in terms of carrier demand, than the A380.]
howard1110
For avid "flightseers" like myself the placement of the A380 window portals is a problem. In the last 18 months, I've taken two roundtrips from IAD to CDG on Air France's A380. The closest point I could see attempting to look down was 5-10 miles away from the flightpath. The three on board cameras don't match picking out landmarks on your own. I am glad to hear Air France is dropping orders for the A380. In contrast, I love the Air France Triple 7s--I choose them whenever I have a scheduling choice.
yr2012
Bring the 747's back into full production
watacat
watacat 3
Agree with you 100%. No matter what they do with the 777's, I was more physically comfortable in the 'Queen of the Skies', not to mention mentally comfortable with the knowledge that there were four engines crossing the Pacific. Of course if I had the resources, or a company to pay my way, which apparently many of the posters do, I might be a little more physically comfortable in the front cabins of some of the newer planes but it still isn't a four engine aircraft.
bennettgaryw
Airojunk! The Yugo of aircraft!
preacher1
Well, as a semi retired Boeing Pilot, that impression gets cast, just because it's new. It does seem, from what I heard, they don't seem to be holding up as good. It is a tad early to see if the longevity will be there. They are not carrying same book value as a Boeing but by the same token, you really can't blame the airlines as they are buying them dirt cheap.
bennettgaryw
Wasn't really talking about the A-380. More along fleet down time average.
preacher1
I know, me too.

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