Continuing the interesting discussion [started by SAS23/Ceilidh] of PART 1; over 5500 hits, over 200 posts! It became too large for modem users [like me...]
I'll repost the last posting on PART 1.
Besides from the cargo department, I think most of us will agree that the A380 is basically aimed at the hub concept. The number of point-to-point routes that can/will sustain 380 service is very limited. So I fully agree with RogueTraders question on the relevance of how these hubs will develop in the future.
RT maintains that the hub is over its top, and the growth will be generated mainly by hub-bypassing point-to-point services. This maybe true as far as domestic services are concerned, but I don't necessarily see this happening on long-haul routes. On the contrary, the low cost carriers [LCC] indeed are doing extremely well, they are eating away the major carriers in their domestic department. So the majors will more and more [be force to] concentrate on long haul, desperately trying to maximize operational efficiency [read 380].
The thing with long-haul flying is that except for a couple of cities with huge O&D [London, New York, Tokyo], most airports do require connecting pax to maintain a decent number of long-haul flights. So they need the hub in order to maintain the long-haul flights. I mean, even if air traffic will double in the next 20 years or so, I still don't see flights between lets say MSY-HAM. We may see MSY develop flights to some European hubs, and vice versa we may see some HAM develop flights to some major USA hubs, but I don't see any direct flights between these cities, not even in twenty years from now. MSY and HAM off course are only taken as an example . . . there are a huge number of city pairs that will never see non-stop flights between them. This is the strength of the hub!
As far as Europe is concerned, the LCCs are making life hard for the majors. They basically forced SN [and SR?] out of business. The LCCs are making it harder for the smaller hub-carriers to find sufficient number of pax to sustain their short-haul flight. The irony is that short-haul flights are required to maintain a decent number of long-haul flights; the LCCs may very well force long haul flights to be concentrated into a smaller number of hubs, which will provide long haul flights to a larger number of destinations.
One could also argue that the way the majors are heading [into three or four alliances] will also make sure that the smaller carriers/hubs have no significant future, thereby increasing the status of the main hubs.
So to me the question is: will multiple daily 330/767/777 frequencies win over a smaller number of daily 744/380 flights? Checking out the BA timetable [not counting overhead planes...], I see that even today BA has over a dozen routes where they operate multiple daily 777/744 flights. Why? Simply because the market obviously is big enough, and they have no larger equipment available to do the job. Will they revert to 380 once it becomes available? Is the three times daily LHR-BOS frequency so appealing to the average pax, that many will walk away from BA if the frequency is reduced to double daily on a 380? How convenient are frequencies on long-haul flights, once they have been developed into a daily frequency? That's the real question to be answered. I can understand that a daily 330 service will win over a 3x weekly 744/380 service. But will double daily 330 win over a single daily 744/380? I'm not so sure. The single daily 380 will most likely be cheaper [either to the pax or to the airline...], and the 380 will also provide more space per pax. Now don't argue that the airlines will use this space for even more pax, since this argument only makes the 380 even more appealing to the operators! And airlines will do everything these days to reduce costs! The 380 will be very helpful, provided the market is large enough to sustain the number of seats.
Why hasn't BA ordered any 380s? Simply because their home airport [LHR], and more specifically BA's long-haul terminal [T4] in not in a position to handle multiple 380s. BA will have to wait until T5 is ready before they can start any significant 380 operations. And we all know how long it took to decide to build T5, we can only guess when it will be operational . . .