TC957 wrote:I wouldn't pay too much attention to what airlines say they want to do with their fleets in 5 let alone 10 years time. Far too many uncertainties in the world to plan that far ahead. No one really knows if air travel will boom or tank again.
Yet A380 retirements started happening pre-covid so it was challenging for some operators in what has to be seen as boom times.
Here is what AF CEO Anne Rigail said about A380 in 2019:
I don’t know if anyone would have been able to forecast it at the time, but the A350 and the Dreamliner just made the A380 totally obsolete, too expensive, too big. Operationally it has always been a very difficult aircraft, you need specific ramp equipment, you need to rebuild runways and taxiways, you need special boarding ramps. I say this because I was working at our CDG hub when the A380 arrived – operationally it has always been problematic. Because you even need special training for everyone on the ramp, I have never seen this before. In comparison, it’s so easy to train people to handle an A350. But when the A380 came to Air France in 2009, it replaced two aircraft types, so on the cost side, it wasn’t too bad. Since the efficiency of the A350 and the 787 is the same, but with less capacity and more flexibility, you can put them on any route. So, of course, the A380 is no longer useful. And we have all kinds of problems with it – related to the structure, the engines. And not only now when the aircraft get older – it has always been difficult with the A380.
I like to see A380s in the morning when they take off. But now we feel it’s a constraint, but it’s a bit sad that Airbus now stops production. We still like this aircraft, but it’s not suitable to keep it while pursuing our strategy because you must put it on your busiest routes. The investment for cabin upgrades is huge – it would cost us €35m per aircraft, I did the research myself. ... we were quite committed to do it. But when you look at the overall investment when you add the refurbishment and the heavy maintenance checks due soon, the cost is so high that we think it’s better to renew the fleet. It is just more beneficial for the years to come to have new generation aircraft. I think the A380 is just outdated now.
Ref: https://www.airlineratings.com/news/air ... rone-a380/
I think KE's situation is closer to AF's then let's say EK or SQ. They've looked at the cost of cabin refurbishment and heavy MX and have decided not to do it and save their money for newer aircraft. They'll just run out the green time on the frames and send them into retirement.
It probably is not a difficult decision for KE, they have all the data and there isn't a lot of uncertainty in a five year window. If you read the quotes above, the decision probably isn't a close one. If anything, they may decide to retire them early because there's big savings when you can shut down an under-performing fleet and all its specialized equipment and spares and its specialized training and maintenance activities.