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cloudboy
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A380 as a low cost aircraft

Thu Oct 28, 2021 3:32 pm

There seems to be a lot of A380 on the market, or at least available if anyone would even consider buying one. In an all coach configuration, I believe it can carry over 800 passengers, though I am not sure it could get that kind of certification.

I am wondering if a LCC carrier could make the A380 work on shorter routes between really high demand markets. I am thinking the NYC>LAX market, the JFK>London, and maybe the London to Miami markets. I know it has four engines, but considering the number of passengers it can carry, that would be fewer engines than the multiple aircraft you would need to carry that load with other aircraft. And, you need fewer flight crew, fewer ground support personnel, and fewer gates/gate occupancy. Point to Point is the rage in the LCC market right now, but a solid hub and spoke model could conceivably concentrate enough passengers to fill such an aircraft on a couple of routes. If you could bring the cost down low enough, this might convince leisure travelers to put up with a layover if they can get a much cheaper flight.
 
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Revelation
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Re: A380 as a low cost aircraft

Thu Oct 28, 2021 3:41 pm

I think you'll note a lot of new market entrants are focusing on using less popular airports and low frequency to try to capture demand that isn't being captured by the current players. Your idea is pretty much the opposite of that, presumably because the key routes are already well served and very competitive. Dump capacity on NYC-LON and you'll soon see plenty of other carriers making sure they match your prices and use their stronger marketing and networks and perks to capture customers you won't capture.

The big problem is getting 800 people who want to fly on that really high demand route all at the same time and are willing to pay good fares to do so. There's a reason why the A380 has an exit limit in the 800s but most carriers fly it in the 500-600 pax range. They simply can't find enough people willing to pay enough to make it worth operating the plane. EK has a massive hub that can get you to tons of different destinations, yet they are only recently operating two class A380s in the 610 pax configuration. So you can picture filling the plane on a big holiday weekend, but what do you do on a dreary fall Tuesday when very few people want to go NYC-LAX?
 
ScottB
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Re: A380 as a low cost aircraft

Thu Oct 28, 2021 4:37 pm

cloudboy wrote:
I am wondering if a LCC carrier could make the A380 work on shorter routes between really high demand markets. I am thinking the NYC>LAX market, the JFK>London, and maybe the London to Miami markets.


What you are talking about is basically the old Tower Air business model -- they did it with clapped-out 747s ~ 30 years ago. They couldn't even make it in the good times of the late 1990s. It'd be even harder with much larger aircraft to fill (A380 vs 747-100/-200) and potential Covid restrictions looming now and in future.

Revelation covers the issues pretty well. In normal times, you'd have no trouble filling an A380 from NYC to LGW in the summer. But how about the middle of January? And the competition these days is more formidable with the rise of transatlantic joint ventures and airline alliances.
 
MIflyer12
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Re: A380 as a low cost aircraft

Thu Oct 28, 2021 5:53 pm

The OP would find virtually all of the first 50 A380s parked - if not already scrapped - because NOBODY thinks they can be operated at a profit. The OP would find no difficulty getting a few A340-500s, A340-600s, or early 777s, either, and they wouldn't need 500+ seats to be filled.

https://www.planespotters.net/productio ... 0/A380-800

Sometimes even acquiring plane free isn't enough to make the operating economics work. DL cast off perfectly fine MD-90s due to maintenance expense.
 
TC957
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Re: A380 as a low cost aircraft

Thu Oct 28, 2021 7:22 pm

The lo-cost business model works when ground turnaround times are kept really low....something you can't do with deplaning and boarding 800-odd pax on an A380.
 
AntonioMartin
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Re: A380 as a low cost aircraft

Thu Oct 28, 2021 7:35 pm

I heard Southwest is looking to buy some..lol j/k..nah I dont think it would be a good fit. For all the reasons named above.
 
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Rajahdhani
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Re: A380 as a low cost aircraft

Thu Oct 28, 2021 8:33 pm

Can someone explain as well, why the cost of retro-fitting these aircraft (if an operator even wished to remove premium cabins as is, or retrofit them to other configurations/space)? Was the issue ever fixed, and/or have any A380 operators undergone major cabin changes to their A380s that I can use an example for furthering my research?
 
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Polot
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Re: A380 as a low cost aircraft

Thu Oct 28, 2021 8:53 pm

Rajahdhani wrote:
Can someone explain as well, why the cost of retro-fitting these aircraft (if an operator even wished to remove premium cabins as is, or retrofit them to other configurations/space)? Was the issue ever fixed, and/or have any A380 operators undergone major cabin changes to their A380s that I can use an example for furthering my research?

Airbus gave customers too much level of freedom when it came to cabin design which ultimately effects things like cabin wiring. Because of that they are too bespoke for their current cabins, and converting them takes a lot of work to ensure that the new cabin has the correct electrical needs at the correct locations. It’s not a simple rip out the current seats and install new ones and plug seats to existing wiring.

They made sure not to repeat this mistake with the A350 (and Boeing with the 787). With those planes the cabin is much more standardized and airlines have to design their cabins to fit the aircraft, not the other way around.
 
ScottB
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Re: A380 as a low cost aircraft

Thu Oct 28, 2021 8:57 pm

Rajahdhani wrote:
Can someone explain as well, why the cost of retro-fitting these aircraft (if an operator even wished to remove premium cabins as is, or retrofit them to other configurations/space)? Was the issue ever fixed, and/or have any A380 operators undergone major cabin changes to their A380s that I can use an example for furthering my research?


Airbus allowed the buyers to extensively customize the interiors of the aircraft. If the customizations made for the prior operator don't fit your business model, you're going to be stuck with expensive modifications.

The issue was never fixed because there isn't a fix. Switching from SQ's layout to BA's just requires a lot of manpower and money. It was fixed for the A350 in that Airbus chose not to offer the same level of customization. And at this point there's no need for a fix.
 
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Rifitto
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Re: A380 as a low cost aircraft

Thu Oct 28, 2021 8:57 pm

You simply can't talk about "a380" and "low cost" in the same breath ,these are two completely contradictory things

just forget about widebody ULCC ,if the smaller a330 or even the newer and more efficient b787 couldn't make it work ,
the chances of a380 are below zero

people need to accept the reality that the a380 is a flop ,
there is a reason nobody wants it ,and carriers started getting rid of it before the covid crisis

just let the whale die in peace
 
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Rajahdhani
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Re: A380 as a low cost aircraft

Thu Oct 28, 2021 9:09 pm

cloudboy wrote:
I am wondering if a LCC carrier could make the A380 work on shorter routes between really high demand markets.

Point to Point is the rage in the LCC market right now, but a solid hub and spoke model could conceivably concentrate enough passengers to fill such an aircraft on a couple of routes. If you could bring the cost down low enough, this might convince leisure travelers to put up with a layover if they can get a much cheaper flight.


To your first point, you need not necessarily go to the Low Cost model.
A forum like this can provide insight, however - many of these companies provide the real-world examples, combining the two - fascinating.

In defining shorter, and high demand - the idea of Japan came to mind instantly.
Domestically, the aircraft would have been a decent capacity replacement for 747D (Domestic).
That said, the aircraft was not truly designed for those shorter routes.
Unlike the 747, it did not achieve the economies of scales to inspire many variants (and/also - regulations/regulators/customers/needs have changed - so what once was, not now is).
Could/should EADS have created an A380D? Maybe, but only after having the hundreds of other orders to make this hop work.

...my 'great' though aside, let's consider how the A380 did arrive to Japan, and how ANA has responded/decided to operate it:

https://centreforaviation.com/analysis/reports/all-nippon-airways-acquisition-of-skymark-and-its-a380s-would-be-difficult-but-with-upside-for-both-184574
"Under the proposal, ANA would take Skymark's A380s and deploy them in the domestic Japanese market in a high-density configuration. Skymark would retain its own brand and operation, so the cooperation would extend beyond simple codesharing but stop short of a merger, which for various reasons is out of the question. ANA has similar but smaller partnerships with two other domestic carriers, Air Do and StarFlyer.".


Having those A380s coming directly from Airbus, ANA could have arranged them in the described "domestic Japanese market in a high-density configuration,".
That said, when it came time it - ANA deployed them differently...to Hawaii (jokingly, I guess - domestic...).

https://www.businessinsider.com/why-airlines-are-falling-back-in-love-with-airbus-a380-2021-10#on-october-15-all-nippon-airways-took-delivery-of-its-third-and-final-a380-from-airbuss-production-line-in-toulouse-france-the-japanese-carrier-had-planned-to-use-the-aircraft-to-fly-solely-between-tokyo-and-honolulu-hawaii-before-the-pandemic-hit-17
"On October 15, All Nippon Airways took delivery of its third and final A380 from Airbus's production line in Toulouse, France. The Japanese carrier had planned to use the aircraft to fly solely between Tokyo and Honolulu, Hawaii before the pandemic hit.".


Completely worth the visit:
https://www.ana.co.jp/en/us/hawaii24/airbus380/

If an LCC wished to expand, the would need more of these configured aircraft. Sadly, with the A380 not having achieved those economies of scales, if successfully applied - an operator would find medium/long-term frustrations in acquiring further new examples for expansion/spares and/or increasing costs (especially compared to competing, newer and more fuel efficient aircraft) in future.

So, backing to your second question - here's a carrier, (though not an LCC, and even that, you can argue...) that almost matches your quote:
https://www.businessinsider.com/why-airlines-are-falling-back-in-love-with-airbus-a380-2021-10#one-airline-that-never-gave-up-on-the-a380-even-during-the-worst-of-the-pandemic-is-china-southern-airlines-from-guangzhou-china-the-a380-flew-to-global-destinations-such-as-los-angeles-sydney-tokyo-paris-london-and-amsterdam-netherlands-36
"One airline that never gave up on the A380, even during the worst of the pandemic, is China Southern Airlines. From Guangzhou, China, the A380 flew to global destinations such as Los Angeles, Sydney, Tokyo, Paris, London, and Amsterdam, Netherlands.".


...and not at all meaning to dismiss the other A380 operators in the region, but well, this is the currently most 'successfully' operating A380 operator (and please, if I am incorrect, please kindly correct below) in the region, at the admittedly dynamically changing times currently.

Conceivably, these were the markets that EADS created the aircraft for, and even then - with the world's greatest operators, the aircraft found specific niche roles - with other aircraft taking up the majority of the expansion into P2P markets, and that often dovetails with lesser competition - keeping in mind that many of these carriers operate the A380 along side these other aircraft, to create profits with limited resources and demand.

https://www.airbus.com/newsroom/news/en/2016/02/asia-pacific-is-a-key-a380-market-today-and-for-the-future.html
The A380 has literally changed the shape of air transportation in Asia-Pacific, and will continue to play an important role as this region’s dynamic passenger traffic develops during the years to come. Asia-Pacific is a major “home” for the A380: almost half of the global customer base for Airbus’ 21st century flagship jetliner is located there, while all of the other world’s operators utilise A380s on routes to destinations in the area.
“While airline passenger traffic doubles worldwide every 15 years, such a doubling occurs each 10 years in Asia – so A380’s market importance will continue as airlines respond to the growing demand,” explained David Dufrenois, head of Airbus’ A380 Market Development Platform.


I won't say that it can't work, but will admit that it hasn't so far - with the current industry.
 
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Revelation
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Re: A380 as a low cost aircraft

Thu Oct 28, 2021 9:14 pm

Rajahdhani wrote:
Can someone explain as well, why the cost of retro-fitting these aircraft (if an operator even wished to remove premium cabins as is, or retrofit them to other configurations/space)?

This was being discussed here on a.net fifteen (!) years ago:

Charles Champion, Head of the A380 Programme and recently appointed Airbus Chief Operating Officer as well, sums up progress to date as follows. “We had feared some surprises that did not occur. There have not been any big problems, but many small ones, and there won't be any showstoppers. However, we did misjudge the amount of work involved on the wiring. The scale of individual customer special requirements surprised us. Now we are having to do the wiring with all the cable harnesses for many different customer versions in parallel. Emirates is even getting two variants. It affects not just the wires but also their fastenings, and hence the structure. Because of that, at the beginning we had sections in final assembly without the full system equipment for the cabin.”

And:

(Champion) admitted Airbus hadn't expected the amount of customisation sought by airlines, which caused delays in production as each fuselage layout uses unique wiring harnesses and hardpoints for mounting cabin items. "We underestimated the volume of customisation," said Champion. "Where we were taken by surprise is the amount of engineering hours required to deliver the technical verification sheets. We were not able to provide design inputs to sub-contractors to do the harnesses." This resulted in fuselage sections being delivered to the final assembly line before cabin interfaces and wiring harnesses had been installed, requiring out-of-sequence rectification work.

Ref: viewtopic.php?f=3&t=404269&p=5185249#p5185249

So Airbus invited the airlines to come up with their own very custom layouts for cabins and were surprised when the customers did exactly that. EK even had two different cabin configs before EIS! As Mr Champion says, this in turn impacted structures, since all these wires need wiring trays, hard points, pass throughs, etc. It turns out each sub fleet has its own wiring diagram, and it turns out that other than EK these fleets didn't grow very big so that's a lot of non-recoverable engineering (NRE) cost to absorb for each head-of-line aircraft.

This means there is no "one size fits all" approach to doing a cabin refit, each cabin needs specialists to figure out what is in the current cabin, what will be in the new cabin, and then how to do the refit.

I think previous aircraft simply did not offer the degree of customization Mr. Champion refers to above, therefore the after market cabin refit shops had less work to do once they figured out the base line configuration for a given aircraft. I also recall reading that future aircraft learned from the A380's problems and offered even less configurability.

Rajahdhani wrote:
Was the issue ever fixed, and/or have any A380 operators undergone major cabin changes to their A380s that I can use an example for furthering my research?

SQ partnered with Airbus to do a major refit of the 12 frames it plans to keep post-covid. I believe QF is also planning or is already doing a reffit. I think BA is planning to do a cabin refit in the decade (2025-ish?). AF's CEO said it was going to cost $35m per plane to do a refit so they chose to retire their fleet instead. Since you want to do research, I'll let you dig up the links! :D
 
ScottB
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Re: A380 as a low cost aircraft

Thu Oct 28, 2021 9:46 pm

Rajahdhani wrote:
In defining shorter, and high demand - the idea of Japan came to mind instantly.
Domestically, the aircraft would have been a decent capacity replacement for 747D (Domestic)


Except this would not have worked for a number of key reasons. As the Shinkansen network has grown, the demand for domestic air travel in Japan has declined -- thus the 747-400Ds were ultimately replaced with smaller aircraft. Contributing to this has been a declining population and an economy which has suffered through three decades or so of malaise. And, importantly, a high-volume airborne people-mover won't work without access to HND, where the A380 is prohibited.

Rajahdhani wrote:
Having those A380s coming directly from Airbus, ANA could have arranged them in the described "domestic Japanese market in a high-density configuration,".
That said, when it came time it - ANA deployed them differently...to Hawaii (jokingly, I guess - domestic...).


NH didn't order A380s because they needed them. The A380s were the price they paid to keep Skymark (and its slots/operations at HND) out of Delta's hands.

Rajahdhani wrote:
...and not at all meaning to dismiss the other A380 operators in the region, but well, this is the currently most 'successfully' operating A380 operator (and please, if I am incorrect, please kindly correct below) in the region, at the admittedly dynamically changing times currently.


Eh, the Big 3 Chinese airlines don't entirely operate based on commercial considerations. With the current border restrictions I doubt CZ can even fill an A330 from any foreign market to CAN.
 
FlyingElvii
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Re: A380 as a low cost aircraft

Fri Oct 29, 2021 1:34 am

cloudboy wrote:
There seems to be a lot of A380 on the market, or at least available if anyone would even consider buying one. In an all coach configuration, I believe it can carry over 800 passengers, though I am not sure it could get that kind of certification.

I am wondering if a LCC carrier could make the A380 work on shorter routes between really high demand markets. I am thinking the NYC>LAX market, the JFK>London, and maybe the London to Miami markets. I know it has four engines, but considering the number of passengers it can carry, that would be fewer engines than the multiple aircraft you would need to carry that load with other aircraft. And, you need fewer flight crew, fewer ground support personnel, and fewer gates/gate occupancy. Point to Point is the rage in the LCC market right now, but a solid hub and spoke model could conceivably concentrate enough passengers to fill such an aircraft on a couple of routes. If you could bring the cost down low enough, this might convince leisure travelers to put up with a layover if they can get a much cheaper flight.

TOWER II?
 
d8s
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Re: A380 as a low cost aircraft

Fri Oct 29, 2021 1:50 am

[quote="cloudboy"]There seems to be a lot of A380 on the market, or at least available if anyone would even consider buying one. In an all coach configuration, I believe it can carry over 800 passengers, though I am not sure it could get that kind of certification.

The A380, loved by some, was a failure on the part of Airbus. They let ego dictate an airplane and it costs billions to produce and never made a profit. The life of the A380 is nearing and end and ending an era.
 
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hongkongflyer
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Re: A380 as a low cost aircraft

Fri Oct 29, 2021 2:47 am

ScottB wrote:
Rajahdhani wrote:
In defining shorter, and high demand - the idea of Japan came to mind instantly.
Domestically, the aircraft would have been a decent capacity replacement for 747D (Domestic)


Except this would not have worked for a number of key reasons. As the Shinkansen network has grown, the demand for domestic air travel in Japan has declined -- thus the 747-400Ds were ultimately replaced with smaller aircraft. Contributing to this has been a declining population and an economy which has suffered through three decades or so of malaise. And, importantly, a high-volume airborne people-mover won't work without access to HND, where the A380 is prohibited.

Rajahdhani wrote:
Having those A380s coming directly from Airbus, ANA could have arranged them in the described "domestic Japanese market in a high-density configuration,".
That said, when it came time it - ANA deployed them differently...to Hawaii (jokingly, I guess - domestic...).


NH didn't order A380s because they needed them. The A380s were the price they paid to keep Skymark (and its slots/operations at HND) out of Delta's hands.

Rajahdhani wrote:
...and not at all meaning to dismiss the other A380 operators in the region, but well, this is the currently most 'successfully' operating A380 operator (and please, if I am incorrect, please kindly correct below) in the region, at the admittedly dynamically changing times currently.


Eh, the Big 3 Chinese airlines don't entirely operate based on commercial considerations. With the current border restrictions I doubt CZ can even fill an A330 from any foreign market to CAN.


You too underestimated the traffic volume of China. In addition, all Big 3 Chinese airlines were printing money prior to COVID.
 
jetwet1
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Re: A380 as a low cost aircraft

Fri Oct 29, 2021 5:41 am

cloudboy wrote:
There seems to be a lot of A380 on the market, or at least available if anyone would even consider buying one. In an all coach configuration, I believe it can carry over 800 passengers, though I am not sure it could get that kind of certification.

I am wondering if a LCC carrier could make the A380 work on shorter routes between really high demand markets. I am thinking the NYC>LAX market, the JFK>London, and maybe the London to Miami markets. I know it has four engines, but considering the number of passengers it can carry, that would be fewer engines than the multiple aircraft you would need to carry that load with other aircraft. And, you need fewer flight crew, fewer ground support personnel, and fewer gates/gate occupancy. Point to Point is the rage in the LCC market right now, but a solid hub and spoke model could conceivably concentrate enough passengers to fill such an aircraft on a couple of routes. If you could bring the cost down low enough, this might convince leisure travelers to put up with a layover if they can get a much cheaper flight.


Welcome to A'Net Mr Michaels.
 
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PatrickZ80
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Re: A380 as a low cost aircraft

Fri Oct 29, 2021 8:41 pm

TC957 wrote:
The lo-cost business model works when ground turnaround times are kept really low....something you can't do with deplaning and boarding 800-odd pax on an A380.


This indeed, plus the problem of finding enough people to fly it. The A380 is a huge gas guzzler, the fuel burn per seat might be low but in order to achieve a low fuel burn per passenger you need high load factors. That's doable on an A321 but not on an A380, those 800 people just ain't there. And if you're flying an A380 half empty you'd lose money on it.

One of the reasons the current long haul low cost model struggles is because they use too big planes, and those are mostly 787s or similar size. Like every aircraft, they would be profitable if they can be filled but filling them is easier said than done. Their biggest threat is having to operate with too low load factors, they prefer to use smaller aircraft if possible since those are easier to fill. A 787 might already be too big, let alone an A380.

And of course like you said, it takes too much time to board an A380. Ryanair currently has 25 minutes turnaround times on their 737s, an A380 would take about 2 hours. All the time the aircraft isn't flying it's not making money so you want the turnaround times to be as short as possible, the 737 and A320 seem to be the sweet spot for that.

Many airport base their landing and handling fees on the size and weight of the aircraft, it costs a whole lot more to handle an A380 than to handle a 737. Of course an A380 is about 4 times as big as a 737 but it could just be cheaper to handle 4 737s than to handle one A380. And even if it isn't, 4 737s give you way more flexibility as you can add more frequency (4 flights a day instead of one spread over the day, passengers pick the time they want to fly) or put them on different routes. That makes it easier to fill them.

The A380 has never been an option for low-cost airlines, it's just way too big. It has every argument against it and in favor of smaller aircraft.

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