Korean Air Airbus A380

Airbus Superjumbo May See Second Life in Asian Low-Cost Markets

Korean Air Airbus A380

Korean Air Airbus A380

Airbus Group has struggled to sell its 10-year-old A380 super jumbo beyond a handful of customers. That’s not prevented the plane maker from considering who might fly the planes when the original operator no longer needs them or wants to replace them with newer versions.

Airbus reckons second-hand A380s might be just the ticket for long-haul budget airlines.

The issue is becoming more critical with the first A380 jets set to come to the end of their financial leases in the coming years.
Kiran Rao, head of strategy at Airbus Group’s commercial plane making unit, said a likely market for used A380 jets is airlines looking to fly lots of passengers in a low-cost setup, principally in the Asia-Pacific region where budget airlines are flying smaller A330 widebody jets.

As the market expands, those airlines likely will graduate to using the A380, Rao said. The market for such A380 super jumbos could be around 40 to 50 planes, he said.
Though a high-density A380 super-jumbo could seat more than 800 passengers, Mr. Rao said a more ideal setup is likely 600 passengers to 650 passengers with a two-class setup. The ideal distance would be around 6 hours to 8 hours, he said.

New owners would face the cost of reconfiguring aircraft which have not one, but two passenger decks.
In the meantime, Airbus hasn’t given up on selling brand new A380s. Management continues to study the business case to upgrade the superjumbo, according to John Leahy, Airbus’s chief salesman.
Emirates Airline, the largest customer for the plane, has been pushing Airbus to build an upgraded version with new engines, dubbed the A380neo. Airline President Tim Clark has said he would buy as many as 200 of the new planes

Mr. Leahy said the plane maker isn’t yet ready to launch the program. “It is very hard thing to do anything for one customer,” Leahy said. But Airbus reckons the appetite for a revamped superjumbo is out there. “We see a lot of demand for an airplane we haven’t yet launched.”


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