Airbus pushing airlines to cram A380s

2013-08-01 12:02

Habana vs Airbus

2013-07-31 11:41

SA Rugby star Bryan Habana races against  BA's Airbus A380. WATCH

Sydney - Airbus is pushing airlines to view its A380 superjumbo as a high-density workhorse rather than a luxury flagship as it targets orders from mass-market carriers in countries such as China, Japan and Indonesia.

SMH reports that the European planemaker has begun pitching the double- decker as carrying 558 people, 33 more than the average stated for the past six years, and could add a further 30 berths by introducing 11-abreast seating in economy class. It's also exploring ways of making the setup more responsive to seasonal variations in traffic.

Most early buyers splashed out on space and comfort, pigeonholing the jet as a high-end option and thwarting Airbus's original vision for hundreds of A380s flying between major hubs. 

Airbus is asking prospective buyers to consider adding an extra seat per row on the A380's main deck in economy class, as well as other denser layouts that would cut unit costs and lift margins,

Stonestreet said. Such configurations could work best on intra-Asian routes, trips between the Middle East and Indian subcontinent and on flights serving the Islamic Hajj pilgrimage.

Among the nine carriers flying A380s, just one, Lufthansa, offers a capacity matching the 525-seat average stated by Airbus on its website for a three-class layout. Air Austral, which serves the Indian Ocean holiday island of Reunion, was the only airline that indicated it would fly a single-class design in its order for two A380s, seating 840. 

The plane is certified for a maximum passenger count of 853. However, Air Austral's CEO said this week the airline had scrapped the idea as the all-economy configuration would deprive the airline of premium revenues.

Airlines have instead favoured layouts that highlight the roominess of a plane measuring 73 metres long and 6.5 metres on its main deck.

While that decision has created a buzz around the A380, with carriers reporting that passengers will change their travel plans just to sample the superjumbo experience, it has limited perceptions of the jet, and in turn curbed sales.

Boeing's 787 Dreamliner, developed as an alternative to the superjumbo after the company concluded that future demand would favour a smaller wide-body suited to point-to-point flights, rather than hub-based networks, has accrued 930 orders.

Read more on:    airbus  |  air travel  |  travel  |  travel international  |  flights

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