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Why US carriers don’t like the A380?
A380 was a mixed success. Emirates has ordered hundreds. Most Asian airlines, ME, and a few EU ordered a few. But out of the whole airline industry not a single order for any of the American airlines although many are phasing out their old 747 fleets. Is it just a coincidence or there’s some explanation behind this?
I remember reading somewhere that US airlines prefer frequency on their routes rather than capacity. Also, not many US airports seem capable of handling the A380. Chicago O’Hare, a massive hub for both American and United, isn’t currently set up to handle regular A380 service.
Maybe someone else has a more concrete answer, but those would be my two immediate thoughts.
I believe O’Hare already has an A380 capable gate. It was completed earlier this year and Emirates flew an A380 there for a test. You should see the A380 there soon, if not already.
However, as [USER=1436]@rickyw[/USER] mentioned, airlines, especially US ones are looking for more frequencies than anything so it doesnt work with their business models. Furthermore, we also now have the 787 and A350, both of which are more fuel efficient and more cost effective for the airline to operate.
Not at ohare yet, maybe not ever given the way the jetway driver treated her.
The 380 was designed as a massive hub and spoke plane. If you look at the 380 operators:
Emirates, DXB hub
Singapore, SIN hub
Etihad, AUH hub
Qatar, DOH hub
Lufthansa, FRA, MUC hub
BA, LHR international hub
Qantas, SYD,MEL hub
So other than LH, QF with 2 hubs everyone else has a single hub.
Name a US carrier with international service that has 2 or fewer hubs.
The aircraft isn’t feasible for these legacy airlines business model. United would rather fly from every hub to Tokyo than shuttle them to a major hub and fly a bemoth. Airbus completely mis read the market. Other reasons as well but that’s the main reason imo. The airports can handle them as many do, JFK, ATL, MIA, BOS, IAH, DFW, LAX, SFO, etc.
Over the years United has pulled capacity back at ORD it used to be 777 heaven. Now 767 are more frequent internationally.
The A380 is also expensive to operate. So you have to be able to fill the plane (which EK, EY, QR are geographically and operationally positioned to do), or rely on oil being inexpensive (again, ME3).
I think the math just doesn’t pencil out if you don’t have those advantages.
US carriers are moving away from trunk routes connecting to alliances and going to thin and skinny routes (have a look at UAs current expansion into China), the 787 and A350 are better suited to these routes.
On my last trip to US in Boston a day after Christmas, by chance I came across a retired United pilot who fed me with some background and wanted to pass it through here to double check. Initially the two full floors jumbo was an American project and post 9/11 decided to scrap as there were some doubts on security due to size and huge capacity to handle. So Airbus inherited it and maybe is even paying some kind of royalties for the same. For as much as fascinating story I couldn’t find anything online that could confirm this. But it’s a good coincidence because I can understand that some or even most carriers have different strategy that don’t match with capacity, but the fact that there isn’t even a single A380 registered in US soil that’s a strange coincidence.
[USER=2779]@Nicola[/USER] this is a long sorry 🙂 I will try to keep it brief and the short answer to the pilots statement is “sort of”
Airbus is not the first airline to look at a double decker airplane, Boeing and McDonald Douglas both looked at double decker airplanes in the 70s but then the oil crisis hit and on top of deregulation it was not vaible for airlines at that time as airlines were looking for more fuel efficient aircraft (by the standards in those days the 767 was efficient). Airbus started work on the A380 in the early 1990s when fuel prices were cheap again and air travel was becoming cheaper with most airlines focusing on a hub and spokes model.
Boeing was selling tons of 747s (delivering 40+ pax and freighter a year for most years in the 90s, and was more than one a week in 90, 91, 92, 93, and 98) and Airbus wanted something to compete so they came up with the plans for the A380. This was also before the big US consolidation which made two to three major international gateways for an airline and then a few secondary domestic hubs (AA JFK, DFW and MIA; DL ATL and JFK; NW MSP and DTW; CO IAH and EWR; and UA ORD, SFO, and IAD). The A380 works best with one hub as many have pointed out (FRA for LH, SIN for SQ, SYD for QF, DXB for EK, LHR for BA) so even having three gateways was going to be a problem for the US airlines, but Airbus was still targeting US airlines and some were considering it. Remember the first A380 orders were in 2000 before 9/11.
Then 9/11 hit which drove down passenger numbers in the US, fuel prices then went up, once airlines were in a place to order new airplanes in 2007-08 timeframe the big mergers started occuring and now airlines have more international gateways and have chosen to run more frequencies from more cities vs trunk routes. UA has IAH, ORD, SFO, EWR, IAD, and LAX. The 787 and A350 are better suited to this. The only airline that could possibly make the A380 work is UA for some of its Asia routes out of SFO but that is a looooooong shot of them doing that.
So yes 9/11 had an impact on why US airlines never ordered the A380 but it is not the only reason and security is not a reason at all as A380a fly to the US every day, but fuel prices, mergers, moving away from trunk routes also played a major impact.
[QUOTE=”Brad B, post: 26116, member: 701″][USER=2779]@Nicola[/USER] this is a long sorry 🙂 I will try to keep it brief and the short answer to the pilots statement is “sort of”…[/QUOTE]
Thanks a lot for your input.