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Airbus A380, Once the Future of Aviation, May Cease Production (nytimes.com) 298

The days may be numbered for the world's largest passenger aircraft. An anonymous reader shares a report: Airbus, the European aerospace group that makes the A380 superjumbo, said on Monday that it would have to end production of the plane if its only major customer, Emirates, did not order more (Editor's note: the link may be paywalled; alternative source). The admission by John Leahy, the company's chief operating officer, was the latest indication that Airbus miscalculated more than two decades ago when it bet that clogged runways would create demand for larger planes that could deliver more people with fewer landing slots. Instead, airlines bypassed the major hubs and ordered midsize planes that could fly directly between regional airports.

[...] When Airbus started delivering the A380 a decade ago, after spending $25 billion to develop it, the company based near Toulouse, France, saw the plane as the solution to airport congestion and to increased demand for air travel. Only so many planes can land at an airport in any given day, so Airbus reasoned that planes carrying more people would allow airports to absorb more passengers. The A380 can carry more than 500 passengers while also offering amenities like showers, first-class suites and a bar.

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Airbus A380, Once the Future of Aviation, May Cease Production

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  • Not surprising... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by wbr1 ( 2538558 ) on Monday January 15, 2018 @04:28PM (#55934079)
    In many topologies, a network with more nodes allows for more fail over paths and more flexibility, albeit at the expense of more complex routing. Routing however is not an issue - just look to the IT world for examples.

    So, it is not surprising - especially of the cost of mid-size planes decreases - that airlines would go this way.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      Routing is easier when most flights are direct, because you avoid the cascading delays common for "hub-and-spoke" routing.

      Passenger routing and packet routing are not totally analogous, because packets don't get angry if they have to spend six hours in Atlanta.

      Also, even for hub-to-hub flights, big twin engine planes like the 777 are cheaper to operate per passenger-mile, mostly because of better fuel efficiency. The 777 is now certified for trans-ocean flights, so it competes directly with the A380 everyw

      • Re:Not surprising... (Score:5, Informative)

        by Richard_at_work ( 517087 ) <richardprice AT gmail DOT com> on Monday January 15, 2018 @05:38PM (#55934555)

        The 777 has been "certified for trans-ocean flights" from day one - its the only aircraft to achieve ETOPS 207, which gave it the ability to cross the Pacific, and that was well before the A380 came on the scenes.

        The A380 comes into its own when you look at slot restricted airports - O&D (origin and destination) traffic from many of the worlds hubs has simply continued to grow, even in the "age of point to point", so people obviously want to travel to hubs for reasons other than going elsewhere afterward. The problem comes when these airports become so congested that they can't just accept another aircraft landing or take off - so you have to increase the size of the aircraft rather than add a second flight.

        So yeah, it makes sense for some airlines to buy A380s, but those airlines it makes sense to do so have already bought it.

        • by spineboy ( 22918 )

          In November 2009, the Airbus A330 became the first aircraft to receive ETOPS-240 approval, which has since been offered by Airbus as an option.[10]

          On December 12, 2011, Boeing received type-design approval from the U.S. FAA for up to 330-minute extended operations for its 777-200LR, 777-300ER, 777F and 777-200ER equipped with GE engines, and with Rolls-Royce and Pratt & Whitney engines expected to follow.[11] The first ETOPS-330 flight took place on 1 December 2015 with Air New Zealand connecting Auckla

        • by ceoyoyo ( 59147 )

          The A380 may be a bit ahead of it's time. They expected airport congestion to be a critical problem and designed a plane for it. What they didn't anticipate was that the congestion problem would be delayed through better routing software. The problem is still approaching though.

      • Routing is more efficient with point-to-point links, just terribly less economical. Going from FAT to HEL will always require at least one connection, because it is unlikely that there is even one passenger per day wanting to take that route average. Where that connection point can be somewhere in the middle, and bisect other major routes you have a natural hub.

        The A380 failed because it was not effective for enough markets. It was great the Mideast carriers, but not a big hit in China. It also failed bec

    • Big planes could get more people out of an airport and fly further. Before computerized routing every airline had to mostly operated as a hub and spoke with big planes moving people between hubs. In the 80s the routing problem was solved. It still took 15 years for the airlines to perfect it but it should have been obvious that they would. Next was the distance problem. You used to need a big 747 to get you across the Atlantic or Pacific. Not anymore. The big planes still have an advantage on some long rout
    • Routing however is not an issue - just look to the IT world for examples.

      Where collisions at the hub are rampant, so we just wait a bit and retry?

      I do NOT want to fly your airline!

      Yaz

    • Re:Not surprising... (Score:4, Informative)

      by Solandri ( 704621 ) on Monday January 15, 2018 @11:07PM (#55936253)
      Boeing knew this all along. They only made the original 747 a double-decker because they wanted the cargo variant [nycaviation.com] to have a fold-up nose, so it would have the capability to slide fuselage-filling cargo pallets in from the front. This necessitated putting the flight deck above the fuselage. And the aerodynamic bump behind the flight deck provided a little extra space where they could put a few passenger seats.

      Once the second deck was fixed into the design, Boeing realized they could greatly increase capacity by making the plane a full double-decker. They continuously pitched this possible variant to the airlines from the 1970s to the 2000s. Every time, their market research said there just wasn't enough market demand to justify making such a large plane. So they never made one. Over the years they increased the length of the upper cabin a bit, but never got enough airline interest to warrant a full double-decker.

      Then Airbus came along and insisted there was enough market demand to pay for developing a full double-deck airliner. That's the kind of risk you can take when the governments grant you loan guarantees (Airbus wouldn't have had to pay back the loans for developing the A380 if hadn't generated sufficient sales to pay for itself). As it stands, it looks like the A380 program will just barely break even, so at least the EU citizens won't get stuck with the bill.
  • by JoshuaZ ( 1134087 ) on Monday January 15, 2018 @04:29PM (#55934081) Homepage
    The general lesson may be the same as that behind the Concorde. There's not a massive market for people willing to pay a massive amount of money for travel by planes. That applies whether the increased cost is for incredible luxury or incredible speed. If this is what is going on, then this does not bode very well for ideas like Musk's point-to-point transit with the Big Falcon Rocket.
    • by iamgnat ( 1015755 ) on Monday January 15, 2018 @05:01PM (#55934317)

      The general lesson may be the same as that behind the Concorde.

      Unlike others, I agree

      There's not a massive market for people willing to pay a massive amount of money for travel by planes. That applies whether the increased cost is for incredible luxury or incredible speed.

      But I think you went to the wrong conclusion

      The biggest issue with the 380 is that not all major airports can accommodate it. Even those that could handle the 747. Remodeling an airport is not a simple affair. Especially those where communities have grown up around them and effectively limited their expansion space.

      The Concorde had a similar issue where there were only a few airports could accommodate it's runway requirements and even before it started running into regulation problems there wasn't a swell of airports looking to sink the money into supporting it.

      A related issue with the 380 is that many airports are already at or near capacity as it is, so the idea of more people in the same number of flights is another infrastructure problem they have to solve at the same time they are dealing with runway/traffic/gate changes. That doesn't give them much incentive to invest in letting those monsters land.

      • IMHO The A380 works pretty well servicing flights into or out of Australia. I think It's pretty much the ideal case for the plane right now. Lots of people wanting to travel half way around the world, with varied destinations. Routes that no plane can yet do in a single hop, with enough demand to fill each plane. So fill a few A380's going to other travel hubs, and swap there for another large plane.

        But for the northern hemisphere, there's enough demand for single hop flights between regional airports, and a few choices for planes that can fly those routes efficiently. Plus smaller airports are much cheaper to fly into and out of. Bigger is not always better.

        • by jittles ( 1613415 ) on Monday January 15, 2018 @07:20PM (#55935071)

          IMHO The A380 works pretty well servicing flights into or out of Australia. I think It's pretty much the ideal case for the plane right now. Lots of people wanting to travel half way around the world, with varied destinations. Routes that no plane can yet do in a single hop, with enough demand to fill each plane. So fill a few A380's going to other travel hubs, and swap there for another large plane.

          But for the northern hemisphere, there's enough demand for single hop flights between regional airports, and a few choices for planes that can fly those routes efficiently. Plus smaller airports are much cheaper to fly into and out of. Bigger is not always better.

          The A380 works great for Emirates because they want to fly everyone into their country, making it an important international hub. So they can have these huge planes flying people in and out, 500 at a time, because these people have to travel around the world and need to take two flights no matter what. What US airlines have found, however, is that it's a heck of a lot cheaper to fly back and forth between regional airports than to have a hub and spoke model because congestion at one regional airline only affects flights back and forth between that airport. If your hub goes down for whatever reason, your entire flight schedule is thrown into jeopardy. If you look at schedules, you'll see that UAL has planes that do nothing but fly between SFO and ATL all day, or IAH and ORD all day. Delta has routes between AUS and ATL all day long, etc. These planes do nothing else. They continue to make revenue as long as those two airports do not experience delays. If DXB has delays, all of Emirate's flights will be delayed. They all go through Dubai.

      • The general lesson may be the same as that behind the Concorde.

        Unlike others, I agree...But I think you went to the wrong conclusion

        So actually you do not agree because you think the lesson to be learned is NOT the same as the lesson from Concorde. The problem with Concorde was cost and the sonic boom which limited both the number of people willing to travel on it and the routes the plane could fly: generally only routes over oceans were possible.

        The problem with the A380 is almost exactly the opposite. The cost per passenger is less but the experience of each passenger is worse due to the long time to load the craft and the need to

    • by itsdapead ( 734413 ) on Monday January 15, 2018 @05:13PM (#55934381)

      The general lesson may be the same as that behind the Concorde. There's not a massive market for people willing to pay a massive amount of money for travel by planes.

      Except the showers, cinemas, shopping malls etc, are entirely optional on the A380, and airlines can (and do) just fit them out with regular economy, business and first sections and just carry more people for the same price - or add deluxe accommodation in first without reducing the number of cattle in the back.

      I've ended up on an A380 from San Francisco to Heathrow a couple of times in premium economy - the accommodation was no different from any other plane, except everything is a bit newer. What makes it more pleasant is that it is noticeably quieter and, supposedly, higher air pressure (I'll have to take that on trust since I had to give my barometer away to some bloody architect).

      Nope, I suspect the "failure" of the 380 is that the easier solution to airport capacity is to add new flights between alternative, less crowded airports ...which is probably why, on my last trip, I ended up on a flight from Gatwick to Oakland on a regular plane that avoided the scrum of mega-airports, took me closer to where I needed to go and cost less.

    • by q_e_t ( 5104099 )
      The A380 is very efficient in terms of fuel per passenger, and is no faster than any other jet, so the comparison to Concorde doesn't make any sense.
    • by jrumney ( 197329 )
      It costs no more to fly on an A380 than a B777. The "luxury" models were promotional concepts that Airbus thought up, most are 80% cattle class 19% Business.
  • It's problem is that it's an ugliest plane ever made. Now if only it had the graceful lines of 747.

    • Re:Too ugly (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Richard_at_work ( 517087 ) <richardprice AT gmail DOT com> on Monday January 15, 2018 @04:37PM (#55934141)

      I don't get why people hate on the A380 for it's looks and then hold up the 747 as the counter example - to me, the 747 has always looked like it needed a nose job doing, it's simply got a massive disproportional snoz and I can't understand what people see in it.

      Now, a plane like the Caravelle or the Comet - those were things of beauty. The Bombardier CSeries has nice proportions, as do the 787 and A350.

      • They all _look_ like almost identical buses to me.

      • by hey! ( 33014 )

        Lockheed Constellation [wikipedia.org].

      • It is really ugly. Both 747 and A380 have the same length, but the A380 has extended the nose bulge all the way to the tail. It looks stubby and fat like a beached whale.

        747, on the other hand slims down has a graceful line, an interesting and distinct profile. I am not fond of the lines of Lockheed Superconstellation, that is a little to fish-like. Business jets are beautiful and have very nice livery, then at the above 100 seat category, 747 is probably the best looking.

      • I prefer the A380 to the 747, because I find the 747s hump ugly. However, the 747 blends its cockpit windows very smoothly with the shape of the nose, which the A380 doesn't. Also the A380 just looks too short for the height of its fuselage.

        The A340 and 787 both look great, in my opinion. I haven't seen an A350 in the flesh yet, so can't comment on that.

      • The A380 looks like a Beluga whale - something just looks incredibly off.

        The 747 at least has the cockpit windows in a better place

    • Boeing is ending 747 passenger production, will continue cargo version production.
      • Yeah, thats going to end soon as well - Boeing only has a total of 12 in its backlog and delivered more than 12 747s in 2017, so without new orders its doubtful the line will see 2020.

      • 747 was never popular as a passenger airplane for its capacity, it was popular because of its range, and because in the past they didn't let dual engine commercial aircraft fly long distances (usually over water) without diversion airports.

        Newer dual engine planes have long range and are more efficient. Increased reliability has altered the rules, so new dual engine planes are allowed to fly intercontinental routes. So for customers that 20 years bought 747, they would now want 777 for the same route. In al

        • Airbus has sold a comparable number of A320 family aircraft as Boeing has the 737, and they did it while Boeing enjoyed a 20 year head start. How's that not a successful product?

          Airbus has sold 854 A350XWB aircraft, how is that not a successful product?

          Airbus isn't going anywhere, and they are due to overtake Boeing in deliveries in 2019 - their market share is increasing rather than decreasing.

    • It's problem is that it's an ugliest plane ever made. Now if only it had the graceful lines of 747.

      Ah yes, that 747 which is also going out of production...

      • It's problem is that it's an ugliest plane ever made. Now if only it had the graceful lines of 747.

        Ah yes, that 747 which is also going out of production...

        After 47 years. Not quite the same as the A380.

        • True, Boeing made money on the 747 while Airbus is still trying to make back their development costs. But my point was that large passenger aircraft are falling out of favor.
      • It's problem is that it's an ugliest plane ever made. Now if only it had the graceful lines of 747.

        Ah yes, that 747 which is also going out of production...

        Maybe that's because the kept extending the originally graceful-looking bump until it started to push into the ugly zone.

    • by hipp5 ( 1635263 )

      It's problem is that it's an ugliest plane ever made. Now if only it had the graceful lines of 747.

      None of which you see as a passenger...

      • None of which you see as a passenger...

        Nope.. but you sure can from the gate, from the highway which parallels the runway, from the observation deck, from your favorite planespotting perch, etc. Mine was at the fence of what is now Luiz Muñoz Marin (what was Isla Verde International Airport)

        Not all plane passengers are plane lovers, but plane lovers *always* take note of what's overhead, even subconsciously.

        747's best angle? 3/4 from behind. The wing fillet. That's art. Or simply science. (If it looks good, it flies good.. forg

  • by Qbertino ( 265505 ) <moiraNO@SPAMmodparlor.com> on Monday January 15, 2018 @04:36PM (#55934135)

    That could be part of the problem. They've probably reached a point where mass transport of passengers doesn't pay off anymore. At least not well and fast enough to justify further investment any time soon.

    I would expect the market for the A380 to grown in time though. Just not as fast as Airbus might hope,

    Then again, this could be just some marketing babble or call for more EU funds for Airbus. The latter being the most likely.

    • by alvinrod ( 889928 ) on Monday January 15, 2018 @04:51PM (#55934261)
      I think the bigger problem is that flying as an experience kind of sucks in general (not all of this is the fault of the airlines) and big planes are mostly good for a hub-based model where you might need some additional connecting flights with the possibility for long layovers in between. Mid-sized planes have much greater range now and unless you're making some truly long haul international flights, it's not a major obstacle to have direct flights between the smaller airports that these hubs used to connect. A lot of budget airlines have sprung up to do exactly that and the narrow focus on a few routes lets them keep costs down which is as big of a factor as anything else.
      • by Kjella ( 173770 )

        The hub-and-spoke model still has plenty advantages but I think you also need to factor in that going through the biggest hubs with multiple terminals and many hundreds of gates is something of a pain in itself. Transfers at moderately sized hubs (<100 gates) where you never leave the security zone and your luggage is checked through to your final destination are quite nice. Basically if you've got so many flights and runways that airspace is a problem maybe it's time to create sub-hubs. I've traveled qu

    • Besides the fact that very few airports could handle the A380, one version could carry ~800 passengers. Imagine even a large airport with the runways that could handle it and getting a large number of them for nearly simultaneous boarding and landing all at once - the terminal would be a mess. And don't even think about the TSA Holdup Theater.
  • Not enough locations (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 15, 2018 @04:36PM (#55934137)

    The A380's poor service record with being grounded so much didn't help. It also didn't help that it didn't actually end up helping congestion. The wake off the 380 is so bad they have to space out landings further at major airports like Heathrow. Plus, very few runways were structurally capable of landing a 380, since the last update to max gross weight for runways was the 747.

    It just isn't living up to Airbus' promises. And, now that you only need 2 engines for transoceanic flight and 2 engine aircraft like the 787 can cover the world's longest routes, there's no need to have a bigger plane to get good long range performance. There's no business case for the A380, just like there's not much of a business case for the 747.

    • by Tailhook ( 98486 ) on Monday January 15, 2018 @05:08PM (#55934353)

      There was never much business case for the A380. It's a prestige plane, built to prove that Airbus is a world class manufacturer. Boeing had a legitimate reason to build the 747 and the market rewarded that with 40+ years of sales. It was easy for rational people to see at the time the A380 was announced (and as demand for the 747 was tapering off) that the A380 wasn't really needed. But they built it anyhow and cut a bunch incestuous deals leveraging EU trade to move them (which is why so many A380s are operated out of Asia.)

      All the trade deals are signed so that bargaining chip is gone, no one actually wants the plane.

      • I've flown the A380 several times on a route that definitely benefits from it: Shanghai to Guangzhou on China Southern Airlines. They fly the A380 about 3 round trips a day, and it's always packed. And that doesn't include the dozens of other flights in smaller jets that fly the same leg. Outside of that heavily congested and used route, though, I don't see much call for a plane that can seat upwards of 800 passengers.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 15, 2018 @04:38PM (#55934149)

    I have been told all my life that Europe can do no wrong. It is not possible that a European product can fail. I cannot go on. Goodbye.

  • by Dorianny ( 1847922 ) on Monday January 15, 2018 @04:42PM (#55934185) Journal
    The problem they couldn't solve is how to load/unload all the passengers efficently. How fast you can get in/out of the gate is just as important as how many passengers you can carry
    • The problem they couldn't solve is how to load/unload all the passengers efficently. How fast you can get in/out of the gate is just as important as how many passengers you can carry

      No, the problem is keeping all the seats full when the aircraft is flying. Loading and Unloading process times are not a huge issue. Load factors are the issue.

      What's happening is that the large direct routes that warrant a 380 are relatively few and there are enough aircraft flying now to service them while keeping the load factors in profitable zones. Airlines thus are not buying 380's. They are not buying 747's either. The market is saturated with large capacity aircraft, so they have stopped build

      • by tlhIngan ( 30335 ) <<ten.frow> <ta> <todhsals>> on Monday January 15, 2018 @05:50PM (#55934639)

        No, the problem is keeping all the seats full when the aircraft is flying. Loading and Unloading process times are not a huge issue. Load factors are the issue.

        What's happening is that the large direct routes that warrant a 380 are relatively few and there are enough aircraft flying now to service them while keeping the load factors in profitable zones. Airlines thus are not buying 380's. They are not buying 747's either. The market is saturated with large capacity aircraft, so they have stopped building them.

        Basically Boeing and Airbus bet on the air travel market going two ways. Airbus bet big on the hub and spoke model - travelers will travel to hub airports, then board an A380 who will bulk carry them to another hub airport halfway around the world, then another flight to their final destination.

        Boeing bet big on the niche flight model - airlines operating flights out of smaller airports near where the big hubs are. This is the point to point model. This is an innovative model that requires a small plane that can go far, hence the 787 Dreamliner which can hold a mere 267 passengers, but go 8000 miles. This is considered innovative as in the past, small planes aren't used because most don't go far, so you needed larger jets like the 747 in order to go transcontinental. But with the 8000 mile range, a 787 departing London can basically fly to everywhere except Australia.

        This model is appealing for another reason - cheap flights. With the rise of the ultra-low-cost-carrier, they can suddenly run reasonably priced flights from oddball places between the US and Europe, where the smaller airports are cheaper to operate. These smaller places will have less passengers, but it's a lot easier to have a high load factor with a 260-seat plane than a 680-seat plane.

        A neat YouTube video that summarizes this is https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com]

        That's not to say the A380 is useless. Japan uses 747 on short haul runs that last under an hour. So much so that Boeing has had to come up with a special table for their 747 flight manuals on the most efficient way to fly them short haul. It's not range, it's capacity - only in Japan could you have hourly flights in a 747 that fly within the nation.Given a maxed out configuration of an A380 is 800-odd seats, double that of a 747, that could help during the many times the planes are just packed.

        • by Malc ( 1751 )

          But with the 8000 mile range, a 787 departing London can basically fly to everywhere except Australia.

          London to Perth, non-stop in a Dreamliner, starting this March:
          https://www.qantas.com/gb/en/p... [qantas.com]

          • by jrumney ( 197329 )
            Will this be like the old Auckland to Vancouver route, where they had to fly the plane (747 in those days) half empty to make the distance?
        • by jrumney ( 197329 )

          Boeing bet big on the niche flight model - airlines operating flights out of smaller airports near where the big hubs are.

          Both companies bet on this. Boeing already had a jumbo, and at the same time as the A380 they were working on a bigger version - the 747-8. Both companies also have smaller planes such as the 777, 787, A330 and A350.

    • "The problem they couldn't solve is how to load/unload all the passengers efficently. "

      Trains can unload a 1000 passengers in a minute or so.
      The solution is called 'doors'.

      • Call airbus with you insight.

        You could be right, you could be clueless.

      • Trains can unload a 1000 passengers in a minute or so.
        The solution is called 'doors'.

        Trains also solved the question of variable capacity demand two centuries ago with a simple solution: articulation.

        Maybe Airbus should have done that, too.

    • The problem they couldn't solve is how to load/unload all the passengers efficently. How fast you can get in/out of the gate is just as important as how many passengers you can carry

      It is easy enough to solve. Just board economy first, business class and families with children last. Or board on the runway with ramps in both ends. Just no one wants to do that for a luxary flight. They are in fact more likely to do the opposite and achieve the mathematically proven LEAST efficient boarding.

    • I'm really not sure either way, but could you provide a citation to the fact that LHR (for instance) is gate-constrained and not slot-constrained?

      My initial thought was that it must be takeoff/landing slot-constrained, but now I'm not convinced.

  • by mykepredko ( 40154 ) on Monday January 15, 2018 @04:46PM (#55934219) Homepage

    If you go back 20 years ago when the A380 was being proposed - Airbus confidently proclaimed that there would be a 1,300+ unit market for a huge four engine jet. Boeing predicted that, at best, there would be a 360 unit market.

    The difference was based on the assumptions made by each manufacturer. Airbus, at the time, was pushing the A340 (four engine) over the A330 and getting reasonably good traction which lead them to think that four engines and more passengers was the way to go. Boeing had just finished the B777 and could see it eating into the B747 market - the B777 offered better economics for 250-350 passengers which Boeing decided was the optimal passenger size for long range.

    It's interesting to see what happened as Airbus started to develop the A380, it gained a lot of good press and a gold plated launch customer in Emirates (to which Boeing responded with the B747-8 to show they were still in the market but wouldn't require a lot of development funds). Boeing sank their development money into the 7E7 (which became the B787), gained sales of almost a thousand sales before the first roll out and Airbus scrambled with the A350.

    The A380 failed simply because Airbus misread the demand for the aircraft (along with the desire to have the bragging rights on the largest airliner out there) and Boeing had a better product roadmap for this space. Boeing is now finishing up the first the second generation B777 prototypes while Airbus is trying to finish the A350 line and revamp the A330.

    The writing has been on the wall for the A380 for at least 5 years (arguably 10) and really the big question is when will Airbus decide to take the write-down on the lost development costs.

    • I think the question is will they survive the write down of the A380's development costs.

      They may not have bet the farm on this venture, but they sure bet a significant part of it. Now that they cannot recover these costs from sales, they are going to have a nasty looking balance sheet.

      Does anybody know if they broke even yet?

      • Airbus stock is going through the roof the past year. Not sure why they wouldn't survive?
        • They've been saying that 270 A380's where necessary to break even in the past. Current orders + already flying don't meet that so they lost money on the A380.

          Every stock is though the roof, my guess after looking at this is that Airbus will survive, but they will take a hit when compared to their industry. They've been careful to avoid even a hint of this action in past years, reacting strongly to people who suggested that they might need to end production of the A380. They where keeping the dream alive

      • Airbus has already absorbed the A380 production cost, its not been on their books for years - they don't operate the same accounting as Boeing (where Boeing get to use "deferred production costs" to move current debt to later airframes), so there is no development costs to write off.

        Airbus could write off the A380 tomorrow and the only financial cost they would incur is the physical cost to close the line.

      • The bad news is that they're losing money on the A380.

        The good news is that they're making it up on the volume of the A320. It looks like they made a genius move on the C-Series as it eliminates the need for them to revamp the A319 line so they can focus on the A321/MOM (Middle Of Market) aircraft.

        Boeing, on the other hand, is making their money on the big twins and hoping the B737 can catch up/be profitable while trying to figure out if their MOM aircraft will be an extended B737, shrunk B787 or new aircr

    • by AHuxley ( 892839 )
      The EU failed to understand nations needed a big jet and a smaller jet for cheap local holidays and many still had shorter runways.
      The EU funded a really, really big jet for nation building and good jobs in the EU and expected the world to pay for upgrades globally.
      To build new runways and support when much better aircraft deigns did not need all the national upgrades to existing services.
    • I feel like it's also a huge warning sign for anyone trying to sell large-scale luxury 'infrastructure' goods in the ME - the long term finances required for stuff like skyscraper construction or buying jumbo jets aren't looking to hot right now.

      Supercars, expensive watches, and ridiculous handbags? Sure. But 8-figure-plus stuff? Planning your long term strategy around a bunch of oil barons having money to burn in another decade is a dangerous proposition.

    • by Strider- ( 39683 )

      If you go back 20 years ago when the A380 was being proposed - Airbus confidently proclaimed that there would be a 1,300+ unit market for a huge four engine jet. Boeing predicted that, at best, there would be a 360 unit market.

      I've always thought that the A380 was one of the greatest marketing coups in history. On the part of Boeing.

      Back when all of this was being proposed, Boeing had their own conceptual super-jumbo that they were proposing (remember the huge flying wings and so forth?), they were proposing this kind of thing along with Airbus, the difference is that Boeing never actually booked an order,s ot hey didn't have to build it. This let them focus on the Dreamliner, further development of the 777, and so forth.

      Airbus,

    • by jrumney ( 197329 )
      I suspect there's a fair bit of selective memory involved here. If Boeing did not believe there was a market, why did they scramble to develop the 747-8 in response to the A380? They could have just squeezed more life out of what they had and left Airbus to their fate.
  • Airbus didn't listen to expert advice from Boeing about the 4 engine giant passenger market size. Boeing has been proved right that the proposed [A380] would trash that market without a return. Of course the 777s undercut both in a lot of cases but one can only wonder if one healthy line would have stayed open a few more years.

    Turns out to be just another wasteful corporate welfare and jobs program damaging to both.
  • So in this vid (from 2013?) I saw the other day, Airbus CEO was saying that China (especially) and India (partially) was going to fuel the demand for massive numbers of passengers per plane. This was going to be the sell for the 380.

    Didn't happen.

    Same with the 747. Juan Trippe's bet never did quite pay off. He had bet that 747s stuffed to the gills with passengers was the future. Instead, most flew at 50% if not under. I've flown plenty in 747, the only one I've been in that was packed was a meat fligh

    • So in this vid (from 2013?) I saw the other day, Airbus CEO was saying that China (especially) and India (partially) was going to fuel the demand for massive numbers of passengers per plane. This was going to be the sell for the 380.

      Didn't happen.

      Same with the 747. Juan Trippe's bet never did quite pay off. He had bet that 747s stuffed to the gills with passengers was the future. Instead, most flew at 50% if not under. I've flown plenty in 747, the only one I've been in that was packed was a meat flight (military charter) from PHL to MHZ in 1990.

      Instead, the twins won the sky, and it happened well before the 777. The 777 was the last nail in the 747's coffin.

      I'm still glad I got to fly in it, and watch them land and take off so much. Always the highlight of a visit to any airport, challenged only in coolness by some old piston liner like a dc-3, 6, 7 or insane .mil hardware.

      How many 747s have you flown on? I've flown on it maybe half a dozen times and it has always been full. I did once fly on a 777 that was almost completely empty, but those are usually full also. In fact, with the way pricing and flight schedules are lately, I feel like it has been a long time since I have been on a plane that was less than 90% capacity. I did once have the luxury of flying on a 737 with just one other passenger.

      • by ceoyoyo ( 59147 )

        I've flown on some 747s that were basically empty. Luxury... three seats to spread out across on those transatlantic flights.
          That was a long time ago though. I suspect routing and logistics software improved, but it seems all flights, from the twin prop dash-8 I flew to get home for Christmas to the widebodies are now packed.

  • Big planes could get more people out of an airport and fly further. Before computerized routing every airline had to mostly operated as a hub and spoke with big planes moving people between hubs. In the 80s the routing problem was solved. It still took 15 years for the airlines to perfect it but it should have been obvious that they would. Next was the distance problem. You used to need a big 747 to get you across the Atlantic or Pacific. Not anymore. The big planes still have an advantage on some lo
  • I got to fly on a 380 some years ago between Singapore and Hong Kong. I thought it was great. The plane seemed to laugh at turbulence. The whole ride was smooth as silk. Too bad it hasn't really worked out for Airbus because I feel that if more passengers actually rode on it, they'd probably like it.
  • by seoras ( 147590 ) on Monday January 15, 2018 @07:28PM (#55935121)

    I live in NZ but I'm from the UK. I go home every so often for visits. I always fly Emirates just so I can fly in the A380. Why?
    I've flown in 747's so many times I've lost count which is why the first time I flew in an A380 I almost shit myself.
    So used to hearing the engines of the 747 go full throttle, being thrown back in my seat as it launches itself down the run way, I expected the same of the A380.
    Not so. When it took off (from Auckland) it felt like it was taxi-ing down the run way. In my head I'm thinking "come on Cap'n put the f-ing boot down".
    He didn't. It just trundled leisurely along. I'm now thinking "FFS, there's water at the end of this run way, stop teasing and go man!"
    Then all of a sudden it lifted it nose. My knuckles went white. It soared gracefully into the air. I was gob smacked.
    That and it's so much quieter than any other jet I've ever flown in.
    If you have to spend a whole day at 36,000 feet sitting on your arse watching tv & movies then I recommend doing in this bird - while you still can...

  • The fundamental problem for the A380 is that twin jets are cheaper to operate than quad jets. The 777 may not carry as many passengers, but it has lower cost per passenger-kilometre than the A380, or indeed the 747 (which isn't so different in size than the 777.)

    I have seen this stated many times. However, I don't really understand why. For example, this [cnn.com] article states "those newer, more reliable [twin jet] engines have also been bigger and more efficient" but doesn't say why jet engine companies aren't als

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