Skip to comments.Taking off in Toulouse (and Seattle)
Posted on 04/28/2005 10:06:54 PM PDT by Paleo Conservative
WHEN the new A380 took off from Airbus's French production base in Toulouse on April 27th, it should have been the European aircraft manufacturer's big week. The successful first test-flight of a 555-seat super-jumbo was quite an event. Instead, Airbus's American rival Boeing almost stole the show. On April 25th, Boeing said that, if all the options are taken up in a new order for widebody jets from Air Canada, the value at list prices would be around $15 billion—making it one of the biggest aircraft orders ever. The following day, Boeing landed a second huge order from Air India. Soon it will announce a third, this time from Northwest Airlines for its new 787 long-haul aircraft.
The timing may well have been deliberate. Nevertheless, the three orders are more than marketing hype, and should worry Airbus. They all come from airlines that have long been big Airbus customers, and they reflect a new sense of purpose at Boeing, which now looks like outselling Airbus for the first time in recent years under its new super-salesman, Scott Carson. They also bring the tally of launch orders for Boeing's new 787 to over 200—impressive for a new plane which has been on the market for only a year. Airbus, by contrast, has only one customer for its rival A350 long-haul plane, and sees orders for the A380 obstinately stuck at 154.
Boeing sorely needed a boost, not least to spread cheer at its civil-aircraft base in Seattle. Airlines have stopped ordering the venerable 747, except in cargo versions, and the firm may soon have to close the production line, along with those of several smaller planes such as the 717 and the 767.
Boeing clings to the hope that the 747 will survive in a new advanced version, carrying 450 passengers (instead of the usual 416), using composite (weight-saving) technology and engines developed for the 787. British Airways, Cathay Pacific and Japan Airlines—three big carriers that have conspicuously avoided signing up for the new Airbus—are understood to be potential launch customers of the new Boeing jumbo, if it ever flies. Several earlier attempts to upgrade the 35-year-old 747 have flopped.
Unless Airbus can soon unveil some new orders for the A380, possibly at the Paris air show in June, scepticism will grow that the €12 billion ($15.7 billion) project will never earn a profit. Airbus needs to sell around 500 (out of its target sales of 700 over 20 years) to earn a real return on the investment.
I guess the Euro sign is an illegal character on Free Republic.
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On the other hand, the current 777 and future 787 planes are easily compatible with current international airport infrastructure, so there's no need for expensive reconstruction just to accommodate the Boeing planes (most airports did the upgrades back in the 1970's to accommodate the 747).
Would anyone like to be among 800 passengers on the sasme plane? How long would it take to get off and on, never mind getting luggage? They would have to offer a lot of extras to First and business-class passengers.
I can't see airports in the middle of the US making the modifications. DFW doesn't currently have any 747 passenger service. I don't think IAH will make any modifications for the A380 either, and both airports were built to accomodate the 747. IAH opened about a year before the first 747 entered revenue service, and DFW opened about three and a half years after the 747 came into service with the airlines. Both airports were built with much room for expansion unlike most other airports in the US. Airlines at IAH are more interested in having multiple departure times to allow more flexibility for their business customers than having one big plane that arrives and departs once every day. I'm sure DFW would just be happy to get one 767 or 777 flight a day for the same international destinations available from IAH.
It's bad enough being on a full 747.
--" I guess the Euro sign is an illegal character on Free Republic." --
It looks fine on preview.
The A-380's meant for slot restricted airports like Tokyo Narita and London Heathrow, not necessarily the New York to Dallas market. It makes sense on some routes (like Tokyo to London) but not on most. I wouldn't expect Dallas or Houston to rebuild for the A-380 unless American or Continental buy it. And I doubt they will. Memphis might, if FedEx actually takes delivery of them.
As you said, the recent U.S. trend has been for increased frequency with smaller planes and increased flights to European non-hub airports. Most American carriers don't even fly the 747 any more, opting to fly 767, 777s and A-330s overseas. Continental has even begun flying 757s to some secondary European airports from Newark.
A-380 is the last nail in Airbus's coffin, the damn EU Socialist deserve it too, IMO of course! Think I will check the Boeing stock prices today.
Which makes me think Boeing will make sure the 737/757 replacement narrow bodied aircraft will have wing and gross weight options early on in the design and manufacturing process to allow range for trans Atlantic operations. Don't be surprised if the next narrow bodied aircraft has a twin aisle design.
Remember the 757/767 were never designed or intended for transoceanic operations. Back in 1978 when the design process started, they were intended for domestic and other routes with diversion times less than 60 minutes. If Boeing had known back then that the 767 would replace the 747 as the most common trans Atlantic aircraft they probably would have made the cross-section wider to accommodate standard freight containers in its belly. It is the lack of freight capacity that has killed demand even for newer models of the 767 compared to the A330.
But which begs the question. Why are those airports slot limited? Prior to the introduction of the 747 there weren't any aircraft with the range for Dallas to Tokyo or Dallas to London flights. People from the middle of the country wanting to travel to Europe tended to fly first to JFK to catch another plane to a major hub on the other side of the Altantic or to LAX or Seattle to go to destinations in the Pacific. Many of the people flying to Tokyo were actually continuing on to other destinations.
With 180 minute and longer ETOPS, and longer ranged smaller planes, someone flying from Dallas or Houston can fly directly to Seoul, Honk Kong, Bejing or other Asian destinations without first flying through two hub airports first. This decreases demand for 747 or A380s flying from LAX or SEA to NRT.
This process is also happening in the UK with charter operators moving operations out of London airports like Heathrow and Gatwick. They are flying directly to tourist destinations like Cancun and Orlando and various cities in Europe. This eliminates traffic on London to Mexico City and London to Miami routes.
"Would anyone like to be among 800 passengers on the sasme plane?"
The seeting arangement must be allot like sitting in a crowded movie theater. 800 people at bagage claim must be allot of fun in it's self.
In Europe and much of Asia, they have no more space to build the type of expansive airport that can support large numbers of takeoffs and landings per day. As a result, the only way to increase capacity is to fly larger planes, hence the reason why the medium-range version of the 777-300 has sold very well in the Asian market and why the majority of Asian airlines are buying the A380-800. Here in the USA, we have a very large number of airports with commercial airline service operating point-to-point flights, hence the reason for the success of Southwest Airlines, JetBlue Airways and AirTran.
I wonder airbus is going to hold back on announceents in order to have them "appear" at the paris airshow.
This does not cover the "order wars" success that Boeing seems to have had of late.
I wonder how much of that decreases traffic on the trunk routes and how much of it expands the overall market by bringing cheap tourists to destinations they wouldn't have considered before. I think that a lot of the package trips to Cancun and the Dominican Republican from Europe are tapping into new markets by attracting people who would have otherwise gone to Ibiza or the Canaries on a similarly priced package, or maybe nowhere at all.
There are already quite a few old air force bases available in Europe to be converted into airports. A lot of the difference has to do with less centralized political and economic systems in the US compared to Europe and Asia. The US tends not to favor economic development of its capital at the expense of other parts of the country unlike France and other countries.
And wait for another hundred orders of 787s?
As I understand it, part of the gate modifications for the A380 include 3 jetways for loading/unloading, so that's only 260 per jetway, a normal load.
Same for the baggage area, a fully loaded A380 is like having two 747s arriving at the same time. You will just have to have several carousels for the different class passengers.
Several US airports have already begun the modifications necessary for the A380.
However, I don't think there will ever be enough destinations to justify a fleet of 500 A380s in the world.
Almost like berthing a ship.
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