Someone sent me an article last week that I thought was pretty funny. Apparently, Airbus super salesman John Leahy thinks United is going to buy A380s. Now, I suppose that it’s possible, but I just don’t see why United would do that.
According to Leahy, an order isn’t coming anytime soon, but “United understands that if it wants to have a major presence in Asia it needs the A380.” He also says that with demand predicted to double in the US in the next 15 years, growth can’t happen through frequency increases at every airport. That leaves the A380 in his mind as the option of choice.
I certainly don’t have any inside knowledge on this, but it would surprise me to see United pick up A380s in the near or even distant future. Why? Because it doesn’t really need the airplane.
Yes, there are some airports that are capacity-constrained that will have a hard time keeping up with increases in demand, but that doesn’t mean United needs a huge airplane. How many routes are there that United even wants to use its biggest 747s on? Not a ton. Leahy might be concerned about New York, but many of those European markets aren’t big enough to support more than a 757 or 767. If demand grows, then United has plenty of airplanes that it can use that are larger. It doesn’t require an A380-sized airplane by any stretch.
Are there some routes that might benefit from an A380? Potentially. There are some capacity constrained airports in the world – notably places like London and Tokyo. But is that enough reason to order the A380? So far, no US carrier (and very few worldwide) has seen a reason. There are so few routes that these airlines would like to have an A380 for that it’s not even worth considering.
So has something changed with United’s thinking? I don’t know, but this sounds to me like an overly optimistic thought on the part of Airbus.