It is reductionist to judge the economics of the A380 on the basis of the US market. The US market is overwhelmingly short haul domestic. Many other markets are heavily international long haul (Asia, Australia, Middle East, South Africa and others; Europe being a mix). On the basis of your US argument, the 747 should never have been built and was flawed in its economic conception. It's tremendous and ongoing success shows the US market not to be highly relevant in the question.
To take one example, I travel fairly frequently between Europe and Australia. QF
operates up to seven daily 744's between LHR
and Australia (BA several as well, not to mention many other carriers). The flight takes around 24 hours. Plus, slots are capped at LHR
and I don't believe QF
has any more options since they introduced their services to LHR
. Can you imagine an armarda of A319's leaving every half hour taking people to every city in Australia? Now can you see the economics of a larger scale aircraft delivering higher yeild on a very long haul route using the same slot as the 744?
Take another example: SYD
. People are often showing the number 744's sitting at LAX
, waiting to return. Smacks of a route in need of capacity, don't you think?
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Photo © Sam Chui
Look at the A380, think outside the US boarders (i.e. where the growth is) and it makes sense.
When all's said and done, there'll be more said than done.