Emirates President: Other Airlines Use A380 Wrong

Filed Under: Emirates

I have a ton of respect for Emirates President Tim Clark. He’s one of the most level-headed and intelligent guys in the airline industry, and he is the driving force behind so many of Emirates’ decisions. Dubai wouldn’t be what it is today (for better or worse) without him.

So when Clark says something it’s worth listening.

Emirates Has Been A Huge A380 Supporter

Emirates has been a massive supporter of the A380. When all is said and done they’ll have taken delivery of about 120 Airbus A380s, which is about half of the A380s ever produced.

In many ways Emirates almost singlehandedly kept the A380 program alive, and they tried to continue to do so.

Unfortunately they recently realized that simply isn’t possible. Emirates will take delivery of their last A380 in 2021, and plans on retiring them in the mid-2030s. 2021 is also when A380 production ends, as Emirates has instead ordered A330s and A350s to replace those planes.

Obviously Emirates would love if A380 production continued, but realistically they knew that they couldn’t singlehandedly keep the plane alive forever, so they had to come up with a new strategy. After all, you don’t want to keep investing in a product that won’t be improved upon over time.

Emirates A380

Anyway, in an interview with AirlineRatings, Clark has made some interesting comments about the A380.

Clark Says Other Airlines Used The A380 Wrong

In my opinion the most interesting question and answer in the story is this:

The CEO of Air France has recently disqualified the A380 as having always been difficult and now obsolete. What is your take on this?

Clark: The A380 was a misfit for Air France. They never scaled, they only have ten aircraft. Yes, we faced the same teething problems, but we dealt with them because we were scaled enough to deal with it. If you’ve got a sub fleet of 10 it’s a bloody nightmare and the costs go through the roof, she is absolutely right. But if you got a hundred of them it’s a bit different. Your unit costs in operating with that number are a lot lower than having just ten. Secondly, look at their interior. What did they actually do to shock and awe their market community with that A380 when it came to market? Why was it that it was Emirates, who took it after Singapore Airlines, that it lit up the planet in terms of showers and bars and big TV screens? We did it for a very well calculated reason. Not to blow our trumpet. But simply we had taken a huge risk and huge investment. To belittle that investment by putting in a Business Class seat of 1990s-think and a First Class of 1980s-think and Economy Class seating and IFE of 1990s-think was not something we would have done, like Air France. The whole approach to the A380 at Air France and Lufthansa was ‘just more of the same.’ They lost the opportunity to really define it. They never ordered any more. British Airways didn’t order any more. BA should have had the same number of A380s as we have, hundred of those. They got 62 million people in the UK and a congested Heathrow hub, that should have worked easily.

Those are some fascinating comments. There’s no doubt that an A380 fleet needs to be scaled for it to make sense, and that’s something other airlines didn’t do. I think Clark is absolutely right about the lack of “wow” factor other airlines put into the A380 as well.

In so many ways Emirates’ whole brand has been based around the wow factor of the A380, and that’s something other airlines left on the table.

But I do find the comments about British Airways especially interesting. In fairness to British Airways:

  • Not every airline has access to the financing that Emirates has access to, given that they’re owned by the government
  • While there’s no doubt that slot controlled Heathrow could use bigger planes, British Airways’ strategy has been all about limiting capacity so they can keep fares up, since they control so many slots at the airport; I’m not saying that’s right, but it is the reality at the moment

As far as reliability goes, Clark points out that the A380 has 99.5% dispatch reliability for Emirates in the last five months. Conversely in the early days they had only 90% dispatch reliability. Obviously they’ve learned a lot in the past decade plus…

Clark On Why The A380 Failed

Clark points out that the A380 never had a chance. It was introduced in 2008, which is when fuel prices skyrocketed, and between 2008 and 2010 the airline industry went into meltdown.

Therefore the plane never had a chance. Had it been introduced in 2004, Clark thinks there would have been a lot more orders for the plane. Clark also points out that he was really the only one who wanted to buy 100+ of them, and the plane simply doesn’t work if you’re only going to buy under a dozen of them.

Clark Still Thinks A380 Economics Make Sense

Clark points out that they can fly an A380 between Dubai and Los Angeles with 515 passengers, and it will burn about 200 tons of fuel. Meanwhile a 787-9 in Emirates’ configuration would carry 230-240 passengers, and two flights would burn about the same amount of fuel.

So the A380 has cheaper fuel costs on a per seat basis, but not by a huge margin. Clark thinks other airlines have instead gone for smaller planes because the A380 is expensive. Buying a plane less than half the cost that’s lower capacity and fuel efficient ticks all of the boxes, but doesn’t show much innovation, he thinks.

In fairness to other airlines, I do believe for most airlines the smaller planes do make sense:

  • Schedule and frequency is important, so in most markets two flights with different schedules are better than one flight (of course some airports are slot controlled)
  • For most airlines there are diminishing per seat yields the bigger the plane

So I think Clark is right, but I also think other airlines are right. The A380 works great if you can scale it to the point Emirates does. If you can fly 10 times daily to London (mostly on A380s) and can offer connectivity with A380s from every corner of the globe, then it can make sense. But without that level of scaling, it’s hard to justify the A380 over smaller, more fuel efficient aircraft.

Bottom Line

It’s always interesting to hear what Clark has to say. I think he’s spot on with his comments, though I think other airlines are in many ways equally right. It’s just a function of the perspective you take on things.

What do you make of Clark’s A380 comments?

  1. Speaking of government-industry relations, haven’t many aviation writers (including Lucky) speculated that the only reason Europe’s major carriers bought the A380 in the first place was because of their respective governments’ ties to Airbus as a “homegrown manufacturer?” They did it to curry favor with EU members, not because the plane was useful to their plans.

    They didn’t buy enough A380’s to transform their fleet, nor did they want to. They bought just enough of them to show support for a program their governments and peers had invested so much money into building. It’s like when your friend starts a lousy jewelry business. The pieces are ugly and you don’t need any of it, but you buy something anyway just to show you care.

  2. It’s a shame that the most comfortable airplane ever made is not able to succeed financially. But life goes on I guess. Except if you fly Boeing MAX :-).

  3. I feel like though that airlines could make it work with even 10 A380’s, either if they have the demand, or they have to make the demand. If you have a reasonably sized/big fleet, like BA, you are bound to have certain markets which have the demand. But you have to take a boutique/flagship approach if you only order about a dozen or less. You either have to make the product superior to the market, or outright have the demand where it makes sense. Look at Qantas, they are probably making some money on the LA to Australia routes with A380, which now have their best products. Meanwhile, Qatar already has a superior product on all planes. Therefore, for them to make it work, they need markets with enough demand on a single flight. Perhaps Heathrow might work, but they need frequency to compete due to their structure, and there is not enough demand for them to have an A380 just for a couple of flights to LHR. Their strategy should be to fly them to far off destinations which otherwise get limited service from them, like Australia.

    I feel like Air France though should have gone with their most superior products for their A380’s. Their the French Flag Carrier. They have the advantage of being able to market it as the spirit and reflection of France. Why couldn’t they invest in it and make it an amazing product. That marketing alone would justify their costs.

  4. Having flown EK 380’s many times I tend to agree with Clark, his comments regarding the EU members dismal support is spot on. I have flown AF and BA several times and its just not the same even first class AF with all it’s amenities pre / post flight just don’t compare.

  5. +1 to @JB

    I can’t always understand why most big airlines can’t operate to their full potential. Imagine having a carrier which steals the market because they are getting all the aspects right. Take BA for example, why can’t their represent the greatness of Britian? I get the money part, but they already have Iberia and other carriers which could be their low cost carriers. Instead of having a bunch of carriers being the same, why not divide them up. BA is already not about capacity dumping and more of a frequency airline. Take PIA for example, they flourished eons ago when the Pakistani Military controlled them (which is a well established and credible unit). They were state owned, which meant they were “going for glory”, but the military control allowed them to be in a way independent and do what is best. As a result, they were profitable, growing, and cared about the passenger experience. But before you all start bashing me about the current state of PIA, it was due to corruption in the country and mismanagement, which started after the military lost control of them. There getting reasonably better now (by their past standards) due to their current CEO, who is an ex Air Marshal (which is Pakistan’s ranking officer who overlooks the entire branch of the Air Force).

  6. One thing that caught my eye and doesn’t make sense is your comment about taking delivery of a plane in 2021 and retiring it in mid-2030s. Even if we assume 2039 as a retirement date, that is less than 20 years. I find it difficult to believe that 20 years for a large plane is efficient economically. In this case I guess they are getting a good size discount on them. Seems pretty wasteful.

  7. The comments about business class are especially on point, just take a look at Lufthansa that has almost 100 “business” class seats on their 380s in awful configuration and without any amenities that can be offered on 380s. It feels like flying premium economy, and in the end you’re worst off when you fly Lufthansa 380 then their 340 for example.

  8. @rich – It would actually probably be the early 2030’s. EK only plans on having them for about 12-13 years last I heard.

  9. Of course BA might have trouble scaling the A380 even if they wanted to. Many of their wide-body routes are to the US where capacity to handle A380s is extremely limited. Remember the Norwegian Hi-Fly A380 fiasco?

  10. Why would anyone use this plane when the could use any other aircraft type and be more profitable. 2 engines instead of 4 to maintain, higher LF (more revenue per available seat), lower fuel cost, etc.

    Emirates isn’t concerned with that though since they don’t need to be profitable.

  11. Its certainly odd that in a market like NYC-London, where there are dozens of flights a day, so few of them are A380s

  12. I’m pretty sure BA was interested in buying more A380s but Airbus wouldn’t give them the discount they wanted.

  13. @ James S — Agreed on one hand, but the problem is that it’s all about frequencies, which is why there are so many of them (despite Heathrow being heavily slot restricted).

  14. @ Ben B — Realistically they’ve been able to make A380s work to Boston, Miami, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. New York also definitely could sustain it, the problem is that BA’s focus is on frequencies over capacity.

  15. @ rich — Emirates is known for how young their fleet is, so they don’t keep their planes for much longer than that…

  16. @ Malc — Whoops, sorry. Dispatch Reliability is the percent of departures that aren’t delayed or canceled. In other words, how reliably they can operate the planes.

  17. I don’t agree with TC in terms of ‘BA should have hundreds of A380’s….

    BA said from the very beginning that there would only be a few routes that the A380 would work for, for them. Primarily long haul routes where there is increased seasonal demand, or where they can consolidate frequency. For example. LHR-HKG. Prior to the A380 introduction BA had three daily flights. The A380 reduced this to two. The A380 would never work on the bulk of BA’s most important routes, LHR-USA. Firstly, because it’s largest markets (ie JFK) are all about frequency. A number of US cities see the A380 seasonally – BOS, ORD, IAD, MIA – and others year round – LAX SFO. But BA has three daily flights LHR-LAX. Only one of them is A380 most of the year. Three x A380’s would just be excess capacity and overkill.

    And there’s another good reason why BA don’t have more A380’s….because airlines like TC’s Emirates fly six of them a day into LHR and back to DXB taking a load of BA’s potential traffic ex LHR. There’s no way most of BA’s routes eastwards could sustain a profitable A380 service. It’s not just about getting the number of bums on seats but it’s also the cost of operating it. A BA A380 has 22 Cabin Crew, a 787-8 has 8. So an A380 is almost three times a 787-8 in terms of crewing costs, hotel rooms downroute etc.

  18. I just am amazed that BA didn’t see the value in expanding and improving service between the largest business and leisure markets as THE European gateway LHR-JFK, LHR-HND, LHR-HKG, LHR-YYZ, LHR-YVR, LHR-SIN, LHR-JNB.

    I guess they went light on capacity to ensure they didn’t get into a fare-war with Lufthansa and Air France?

  19. Excellent article and Mr. Clark is an unicorn among airline executives to truly appreciate this great airplane. The A380 is without a doubt the best innovation for serving dense gateway hub to hub routes. It was specifically designed to relive capacity congestion at the very large hub airports with limited landing slots and noise abatement curfews in effect or being considered. There have been numerous misrepresentations about the airplanes expensive airfield, gate and ground support requirements when actually the airplane from its onset was designed to operate on existing FAA ADG V, ICAO Index 14 Group E airports. I know, because I was involved from the onset with Airbus re airport compatibility and when the time came to accommodate the airplane at MIA rejected efforts by so called expert consultants to implement unneeded wasteful upgrades to the airfield, gates and terminal. The total investment for A380 accommodation under my watch was $4.5M for PLB’s and 400 Htz ground power and the airplane successfully operated from 2008 through this year at MIA.

  20. He makes a fair point about AF and others not really doing anything special with their A380s but thats about it. EU legacies (and the US3) are flying a lot more 5-10ish hour “long-hauls” where route capacity is filled by frequencies, especially with all the JVs out there now. The ME3 are more isolated geographically from many major markets and are far more reliant on connecting people to/from longer 10-15 hour flights where higher frequencies don’t make sense.

  21. I believe that Mr. Clark is trying to save face. If we lived in an alternate universe, possibly the A380 would have been successful. In our universe, it truly comes down to what the market wants.

    In the late 1990s and early 2000s Airbus made the decision, to build a plane, to fly huge numbers of people in relatively few planes to major hubs around the world; while Boeing’s decision was to make an airplane that was more efficient and cheaper to fly than anything else in the sky – while capable of flying directly to more cities than just the major hubs. Keep in mind, Boeing already had two big planes in service, the 747 and 777 (both are larger than the 787). Boeing clearly picked right. Boeing had 753 orders for Dreamliners before its first flight in 2011.

    Airbus and Emirates were reminiscing of a bygone era

  22. He failed to mention that one of the reasons why EK never placed another 100 plane A380 order was because they knew the A350 and the 787 would allow the competition to fly passengers ultra long distance direct thereby eliminating the demand for Middle East hubs in the future.

  23. @James/Lucky, I think the other reason is that BA’s terminal at JFK is not equipped for A380s.

    That being said, they probably could have updated their gates if they wanted to.

  24. BA still has 57 B744 in its fleet even as they are drawing down that number, so buying 50-100 A380 back in the 2000’s was never in the cards for BA.
    Alan Joyce quipped that you could fly two B787 nose to tail and still have better economics than one A380, thus frequency wins out for QANTAS. Likewise, the US carriers never bought in, and instead went the frequency route.
    Late in the game, Airbus tried to market an A380 with more seats squeezed in, but there were no takers: if you have trouble filling all 500 seats, what good is it to add another 50 seats.
    In the end, I agree with Clark, make the A380 special and build your service around it, or don’t bother at all. It’s like signing a star player to your football/basketball team, but not building your strategy around their style of play.

  25. American carriers didn’t give the A380 a chance, is that due to slots or the potential loss of slots if they’d purchased or due to lesser discounts from Boeing if they had? If airlines had bought units taking the line up to the 1000 mark, this would have brought the unit price down and therefore given the 380 a fighting chance. The population is getting bigger and I think the decision to stop production will be regretted longer term.

  26. @William Brock And the 787 is also one of the most uncomfortable and cramped planes I’ve ever had the displeasure of flying in. It doesn’t matter which class you fly in, it’s just a terrible plane, although it’s far worse in economy than just about any other plane out there. A350 or A380 any day over the 787. In fact, I’d rather fly on a 747 over the 787.

  27. I think it ultimately boils down to each carrier’s business model and market realities.
    For sure I agree with Clarke that having a small sub fleet made absolutely no sense. The carriers that did that simply ordered the A380 as a double decker replacement without having a clear vision. For instance, the A380 was not a fit at all for carriers like Malaysian, Thai or even Virgin Atlantic.
    That said the industry changed dramatically post 2008. Take an airline like Qantas that operated 747s on its hub and spoke Europe where they used various points in Asia as transit hubs to ferry passengers to Europe in what was a traditionally restricted market. The liberal policies of the government saw an onslaught of capacity which combined with high fuel prices sent Qantas’s international business into such a tailspin that at one stage saw it contemplating becoming a regional or domestic carrier.
    Hence they scaled down their A380 plans significantly by cancelling orders and pivoted to a premium centric model with smaller planes and were able to turn it around.
    Emirates on the other hand built a large scale transit business model with access to some of the most densely populated markets. They used the 380 to exploit these high density markets and leveraged the opportunity to build a powerful brand for themselves around the 380. Well done!
    The question is how many others had financial backers with the cash and strategic vision to afford the appetite to take such a huge gamble? Let’s not forget the fate of Etihad that attempted a similar business model. And Qatar too isnt exactly taking it.
    The reality is that network carriers from developed first world markets cannot cater to the price sensitive markets that Emirates serves as their cost structures cannot sustain it.
    A carrier like Air France has union issues and high wages meaning that it simply can’t offer the fares that are low enough to fill up an A380.
    Qantas is an end of the road carrier again with high cost hubs that through sheer innovation (yes of a different kind to Emirates) has managed to create a premium centric business model for its home market. It now aspires to differentiate itself further through ultra long haul nonstops that bypass hubs. Given its unique geography it can justify making the investments in a segment that would be far too niched for other carriers to compete in. This is perhaps their bold and visionary initiative just like Emirates took with their 380s except that it is right for them- they are creating a relevant proposition for their customers that other carriers wont replicate. For instance I can’t see BA or Delta investing into a sub fleet of 777-8xs just to service Sydney from London and New York.
    BA and the 380 is probably a grey area. Being hubbed in a slot controlled high demand airport with plenty of premium traffic they could have made the 380 work. Their large fleet of 747s made them an obvious buyer. Yet their lack of follow through post thier initial order is perhaps because they saw the writing on the wall for the 380 early on. They were far less invested into the A380 program compared to Emirates and therefore had no reason to keep a sinking ship afloat. Moreover, they had access to a hub with the highest premium demand in the world hence had the option to drive yield growth. Emirates’s growth model was always driven by passenger numbers hence it did not have this option.
    To a lesser extent, SIA is in a similar situation and has pretty much followed BA’s footsteps.
    Ultimately the A380 was far too niched a proposition for most carriers and ironically it is Emirates gigantic fleet of A380s that ultimately dissuaded other potential customers from investing further into the program. With its fully loaded flying palaces hitting cities such as London, Zurich, New York, Paris, Tokyo, Singapore, Hong Kong, Bangkok, Milan, Frankfurt and even Nice often several times a day, there were quite simply limited opportunities for other carriers to operate the aircraft. Ultimately there was demand for 350 or so aircrafts at this time and Emirates chose to operate 60% of them.

  28. He’s totally right about the AF A380, I’d go out of my way to avoid their dreadful A380 J, never understood their logic fitting such a plane with this horrible business class seat.

  29. I think BA had nearly 60 747s in their fleet at one time so I can see where he is coming from. But I think BA had been so happy with the 777-300er they added and had a longer term strategy to open long thin markets with the 787s and maintain frequencies in other markets

    This is what I was told when I enquired at an interview 7 or 8 years ago. I didn’t get the job!

  30. Tim Clark is always spot on but forgets that the project was delayed for years and has seen three or four Airbus bosses resign (if I recall right). Moreover I remember a few emergency landings due to technical issues, one was with Qantas and hell no, if I have restrained budget i’d think twice before investing almost half a billion in a single aircraft. So yes, the skyrocket fuel prices back then did its part and I also recall coinciding with a global recession and most western airlines keeping tight on expenditures (at that time only ME airlines were buying record number of aircrafts and some Asian carrier too). Western airlines then went back on profit, rumors on the A380 future were starting to spread in the air and if I were any of those CEO’s I’d think twice prior to investing such a huge amount.

    So well, yes, I also have huge admiration for Tim Clark and his achievements together with Maurice Flanagan, both renown as aviation legends, but I am not sure that his strategies could work with other airlines. Consider that no A380 were sold in the US or in Latin America. Not a single one.

  31. As someone who designed the avionics of that beautiful aircraft, I support his comments. Will be sad to see the final A380 wheel out of the last station.

  32. When Willie Walsh was the CEO of British Airways, prior to being elevated to his current position at IAG, he had waxed lyrical about BA’s plans for the A380 and all the destinations that BA was going to deploy the aircraft on. When it came to financing the aircraft, in typical Walsh fashion, he and his team played hard ball with Airbus and the banks that were willing to finance the aircraft for BA.

    Thus it is no surprise that Airbus refused to play ball with BA when they were seriously considering buying more A380s.

    Tim Clarke is absolutely correct in his observations about the lack of innovation by other airlines when they deployed their A380s. One of them is particularly keen to retire them ASAP, because they completely lack innovation and imagination in effectively using their aircraft.

  33. One modification to dispatch reliability definition. It is usually measured within 15 minutes of scheduled departure. Schedule completion is a different metric and measures the % of flights completed regardless of how late it is. So if a flight is delayed 24 hours it will count as a schedule completion but a big fat zero on dispatch reliability.
    Sir Timmy keeps on about scaling up ops: funny you never hear that comment about any other type that seem to make money even with fleet sizes in the single digits. Reality is that once you get above 25-30 airplanes of a given type the economies of scale just about vanish.

  34. I LOVE the A380. I am a LAX-LHR flier and though I love the 747 for all the reasons I choose the A380 even though the times are not my fave. It is roomy, private, quiet. I WISH BA would pick up some cheap A380s and use them for the other 2 747 flights. I LOVE the 747 but the A380 is the best plane I have ever flown though I will like to try the A350 someday.

    The Etihad Residence is SPECIAL!!! Probably would have never seen that without the A380. 🙁

  35. No carrier operates an A380 between JFK and LHR because BA’s JFK terminal can not accommodate the aircraft, and their rivals on the route, AA, DL, and VS, don’t own any.

  36. Speaking of Emirates’ dispatch reliability, I recently took DME-DXB-BKK and then SIN-DXB-DME, three out of four flights were on a A380. All four flights were heavily delayed (1,5 hours to 2,5 hours).
    So yeah, very reliable and on-time.
    Still enjoyed the experience, though.

  37. I find the industry preoccupation with ultra long haul etc perplexing. I keep hearing its what people want but honestly as a frequent LH flier I’m not so sure. What I do hear repeatedly is that once you fly in an Emirates A380 all other air travel is extremely uncomfortable in comparison. That even a stopover makes the experience worthwhile.

    I cant help but feel this is the industry cutting costs, and telling themselves and consumers it’s what they want when in reality the thought of being on a small plane for 19 hours, crammed into sub standard, antiquated seating even in business class is the stuff of nightmares for most.

    Frequency is great, providing you offer additional comforts in my view. But really it’ll just end up with one flight an hour where in economy the average height westerner will have their knees firmly embedded in the seat in front of them because of ‘cost efficiency’ which is just airline greed put in palatable terms. 8 hours of that is painful, 19 from LHR to Sydney…well…

  38. Glasgow even takes the Emirates A 380 now-summer schedule.
    If they can-almost any one could.
    The numbers added up.
    Emirates also wins on own branded lounge numbers-something Qatar doesn’t do, with some truly awful other provider lounges in Qatar’s stable, though they do have some decent alternates in One world coverage such as in Singapore where on many flights you can get into Qantas and BA lounge rather than the official SATS lounge.

  39. Completely agree with almost everything Sir Tim has said and the majority of comments by yourself, Ben.

    However, note that BA’s strategy is no more about limiting competition at LHR than AF or LH’s at their respective hubs. For all the talk you see of BA being this unparalleled monopoly, BA and other IAG carriers together only control c.55% of slots at LHR vs. AF/KLM having c.60% at AMS and LH Group holding 69% in FRA and 72%(!) of all MUC slots.

    Also, if you look at all London airports rather than just LHR then BA’s slot share is actually nowhere near that level and probably about average for a major global carrier in their capital city, given they have 24% at LGW and not much elsewhere other than much smaller LCY.

  40. Article — “Clark points out that they can fly an A380 between Dubai and Los Angeles with 515 passengers, and it will burn about 200 tons of fuel. Meanwhile a 787-9 in Emirates’ configuration would carry 230-240 passengers, and two flights would burn about the same amount of fuel.” —

    While this might appear to be a “wash” in terms of “fuel burn,” what Clark misses out on, especially when applied to competing airlines, is that those two flights with the B787-9 will be scheduled at different times of the day, when a broader cross-section of passengers can be booked. With the A380 everyone must fly on the same time schedule and that might not work for many passengers, thus potentially creating lower load factors on the A380 … I don’t think that Clark should just “presume” that A380s will always fly with 95%+ load factors! Additionally, using two B787-9s will allow more flexible route planning than with just one A380, especially on seasonal routes that many competitor airlines might often fly.

  41. Sir Tim, probably my aviation idol, I confess, is absolutely right, but more in the comments regarding facilities.

    The A380 heralded bars, swimming pools, yes, showers, etc and the space for them too.

    Emirates is the only airlines that has fulfilled these dreams on a plane that can accommodate them, and then fly them with smoothness I have not consistently experienced on any other aeroplane.

    MH bemoaned their purchase from day one, at a time when they had the ONLY KUL-LHR non-stop. What a corporate catastrophe! Business was 2-2-2 with flat RECLINE seats only! These tragically poor and outdated design features, as was said by TC, emanated in other carriers too.

    Bottom line. the A380 could have been such an enormous success if only the other carriers had the foresight that TC had in believing in it and ensuring that the passenger experience IS different to any other aircraft. In all classes, perhaps especially economy.

    The 380 I understand holds more than that number of patents in its construction and It’s sad that such innovation on the part of all the contributors to Airbus, Spain for the tail fin, Germany for the avionics, UK for the groundbreaking stir welded wings large enough and light enough for the structure to become airborne, yet small enough to fit the US (Boeing 747) designated “window” of maximum.

  42. This pax just did Birmingham to Auckland return in EK steerage class leaving Saturday and back Thursday. Two A380s, one two-hour transfer in Dubai each way. The extra space in the A380 cabins, amazing big screen ICE and above-average catering, especially on the 15/17-hour DXB-AKL rotation (even a small but sensibly stocked amenity kit was offered) and local-UK-airport convenience made EK the no brain choice, even at a £150 premium (booked 6 days ahead) over Cathay from LHR via HKG.

    Add in being able to go from arrival gate to departure gate at Dubai in 25 minutes, with a change from C to A terminal and it’s simply this: Emirates makes 380s work for the convenience of pax as well as the airline.

    I’ve also flown BA and KAL 380s in business and neither cabin is anything like state of the art for the money, nor is catering notable.

    One additional treat for EK A380 Economy passengers – the upstairs forward cabins on the two-class 380 we get BHX-DXB. You sit where First goes on the 3-class planes and get window seat storage bins, 2-4-2 layout, three nearby loos (1 huge with baby change table) more shoulder and head space and faster service from a dedicated galley.

    Happy days.

  43. Counterpoint: there is no such thing as a “secondary destination” in Dubai. If there were any Sir Tim would be singing a completely different tune.

  44. Didn’t they order so many A380s because they felt Dubai was going to be the transit stop for the world. Agree with David S, with the A350s and 787s the nonstops have grown point to point and the need to go through the ME is non existent where these routes exist. I think Emirates did not see that coming.

    Having flown the EK A380 it was a real pleasure. A difference of day and night compared to the 777. Didn’t find the 787 as cramped and have yet to fly the A350.

  45. #Marco
    Boeing’s marketing charge against the A380 started after the 747 came into service with a wing width restriction “envelope” which (I’m guessing) was set to prevent anyone building a bigger aircraft with longer wings. Until stir welding successfully eliminated the amount1s of rivets needed to attach the skin to the wing frame and produced a powerful wing, within the envelope. The second charge from Boeing was that a large aircraft servicing hub and spoke system was not needed; the industry is moving point to point. At the time this merely meant smaller towns, connecting but still only about the same flight time.

    Tim would have seen that coming. What he may not have seen is the distance that is now interpreted as point to point which of course it is, but not envisaged at the design stage of 380, nor 787.

    So, yes, there appears to be a problem looming for all the connecting stations if ultra long haul takes off (pun intended). All Europe and America, N & S routes to Australasia would be non-stop.

    How does that make HKG, SIN, BKK, ME3 feel, I wonder?

  46. _Duck Ling ______________________________________________________________________________________________
    The A380 would never work on the bulk of BA’s most important routes, LHR-USA. Firstly, because it’s largest markets (ie JFK) are all about frequency.
    A BA A380 has 22 Cabin Crew, a 787-8 has 8. So an A380 is almost three times a 787-8 in terms of crewing costs, hotel rooms downroute etc.

    Long haul routes are very time zone limited and mostly in the middle of the day. There is no flights between NYC-LON from 10am to 5pm. If the bulk of the flights are from 5pm to 10pm then size matters. That’s how it goes with all long haul routes especially across oceans. Frequency on long haul is a dead end especially for curfew airports. Dubai has no curfew and yet they fly A380 everywhere even taking off at 3am and 4am.

    A380 has two less active pilots than 787 and 6 less pilots than A321 on equal number of passengers and pilots are the most paid by far.

  47. BA config is as follows:
    A380 469 total of which 166 are premium seats – first, club & PE
    787-8 214 total of which only 60 are premium seats – club & PE
    A380 22 correct
    787-8 8 is incorrect. 10 is correct

    Crew per pax:
    A380 21.3
    787-8 21.4

    Revenue is much higher on A380, due to premium cabins, therefore supports extra crewing

    Flight crew
    In cases where it is called for, there is a duplicate flight crew, solely dependant upon flight time, in the case of both, indeed, all aircraft

    So with the A380’s high payload on a long flight 469 revenue earners would support 4 flgiht crew; 1 f/c per 117.25 pax
    On a 787-8 214 revenue earners would need to support 4 flight crew; 1 f/c per 53.5 pax

    As many have said the A380 was supposed to solve the problem of slots at busy airports.

    Can anyone comment on why the A380 has never been used for high density config to a max of around 880? This was supposed to be another economical use for the plane, to holiday destinations, possible charters, which automatically solves the problem of load issues.

  48. There is soo much negative press about the a380, I appreciate this article, it really clears up the BS floating around out there. I was privileged to fly on 3 of the a380 with Emirates….excellent service !

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