Cranky on the Web (June 22 – 27)

American

American’s new 777-300 planes bring luxury to long overseas flightsFt Worth Star-Telegram
I was asked to comment on American’s spiffy business class on the 777-300ER and what people really want when it comes to the premium cabin.

Is the Airbus A380 This Generation’s Concorde?AdWeek
I was asked the titular question, and I think it’s hard to compare the A380 to Concorde, though some parallels can be drawn.

Dodging Airline Fees the Hard WayKiplinger
The author was able to fly Spirit without paying a single fee, but my quote was more tangential – about the possibility of legacy airlines charging more fees, like seats and carry-ons.

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13 comments on “Cranky on the Web (June 22 – 27)

  1. Seriously? More A380 bashing? Bottom line is this is an excellent aircraft that the rest of the world has embraced – it is vastly more comfortable than the 747 ever was (not that I’m dissing that great plane), and it smacks of jingoism that, just because no US carrier has placed an order for a single A380, that the plane is a failure.

    I have no axe to grind in the whole Boeing vs Airbus argument; I love the 777 as I do the A380, I can’t wait to try the 787 (and find out if it really is as uncomfortable as most reviews say it is), or the A350 when that comes on line. The more the merrier.

  2. Agreed. I live in Asia, and I usually travel on the big Asian and Middle Eastern carries, and from over here, it’s clear that the “failure” of the A380 in American markets doesn’t reflect badly on the plane, but rather reveals the decay and mismanagement of American carriers. Sure, Airbus hasn’t had as many orders as it projected, but just you wait: China. India. Oceania. East Asia. China. China.

  3. Bobber and Harold – While I think the article is a huge stretch to compare it to Concorde (sadly, all of my quotes about that were left out), the A380 is nowhere near being a successful program. You have one airline that’s keeping the program afloat – Emirates. And even that is far from what Airbus needs to make this program profitable.

    This has nothing to do with the comfort of the airplane or anything like that – it’s a strict business view. This also has nothing to do with Boeing vs Airbus, one of the silliest arguments around in my mind. Airlines simply want smaller airplanes than this. That’s why the 787 is wildly successful already as is the A350, before that airplane even flies a revenue flight. The A380 just continues to lumber along, as it has for years, without garnering serious orders from many airlines at all.

    1. You really think it’s lumbering, Cranky? I don’t doubt Airbus would have hoped/predicted quicker, stronger sales (particularly with more ‘premium-branded US airlines), but a lot has happened in the World since it’s initial inception (most of it caused by the idiocy of your government and my government); I still think it will be around for years to come, and then, perhaps, we can judge just what a failure it’s been.

      1. Bobber – Yeah, the program is certainly lumbering along (not talking about aircraft performance, of course). It has been nearly 15 years since the program was launched (December 2000) so I’d say we’re certainly far enough in to judge it. There are 324 orders with more than 40% (140) coming from Emirates. Meanwhile, the A350, which has yet to even be delivered, has over 800 orders (despite Emirates just canceling its whole lot).

  4. AA 7770399

    “””””Fernandez expects the incoming 777-300ERs will be used on similar, long international flights where there is demand for a premium travel product.”””””

    So they don’t know what they will do with the aircraft on order? Is that how airlines work, buy a bunch of airplanes and they figure out what they will do with them once they get them?

    1. 1) If you’re Emirates, yes.

      2) More seriously, I read that as them not willing to tip their hand publicly. We’re still talking about deliveries far into the future, right? There’s not much upside to committing a particular plane to a particular market far in advance, and I can think of a lot of downsides.

    2. David SF – You have to remember that in this case, American ordered the 777-300s before the new management team got there. So it’s a bit of a unique situation. But you would hope that there was a plan originally. Now the question is whether that plan continues or if the new management team has a new plan.

  5. A380/Concorde

    Like the picture comparing the two. Only time will tell but the A380 is not an aircraft that can just be used between any two major cities. At least the 747 was used between a lot of city pairs even within the USA that needed a larger aircraft, but could still fill it. There are other aircraft that can fly the same distance the A380 can, but with less people needed and less cost to operate.

    If it wasn’t for Emirates, would Airbus have even built the plane in the first place?

    1. David SF – It’s a good question whether Airbus would have built the airplane without Emirates. Seems to me that they were determined to push ahead with this regardless of the business case. If not, they probably could have brought the A350 to market sooner and stolen more orders away from the 787/777. I would think that would have been a better idea.

  6. My wife and I are taking the A380 from DFW to SYD non-stop on Qantas this fall and I’m looking forward to it. I understand that this is the longest commercial route in the world. We were originally booked on a 747 but it didn’t have the legs to go non-stop so we would have stopped in Brisbane first. We won’t be in first or business class but we’ll still be in the upper deck with only 2 seats across.

  7. From a business perspective, IMO the 787 makes more sense for most airlines than does the A380, as its “convertible” design can be profitable on more stage lengths, and therefore can serve more markets profitably. The 380 is a fine airplane for the market it was designed to serve, but the 787 simply can serve more markets, which means more airplane sales…

  8. Regarding the A380 vs. the 777-300 – The one variable on international flights is cargo. In fact, there is so much belly cargo (the 777-300 has 44 LD-3 positions of capacity) many airlines are starting the park the freighters. Keep in mind, a 777 uses only about a 1/3 of the belly space for baggage. 2/3 of the space can be sold for freight – sometimes in excess of 80,000lbs. That’s huge when it comes to margin on the revenue side.

    The A380, has the same belly capacity as a 777-200, but carries twice as many passengers. On top of that, weight restrictions on long haul flights limit freight to about 15,000lbs. In fact, some airlines don’t even sell cargo on A380 flights. The A380 will continue to be marginally profitable because of its lack of cargo capacity.

    I know they have scrapped the A380 freighter, but here is my proposal. Configure the main deck for cargo. That would provide main deck and lower deck freight, much like a 747 freighter. The top deck could be configured for up to 200 pax in a mix of J/Y confiruration (Guesstimate). In my mind, that would be a huge money maker! A Combi A-380!

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