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vedatil4
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Second-hand A380s to free up smaller planes?

Wed Jan 26, 2022 12:47 am

Hello Airliners.net friends,

I'm aware that the A380 was meant for a hub-and-spoke business model when it came out. It also appears that the A380 lost against the B787, A350, and soon the A321XLRs, with their higher efficiency and point-to-point concept.

But could second-hand A380s be re-purposed for shorter distance city-pairs that have tremendous demand and frequency? I assume that this strategy would free up a small airline's aircraft to pursue other destinations.

Here's and example of what I mean: There are currently 22 daily flights from TIJ to MEX. 10 of which are Volaris alone.

Couldn't Volaris purchase an old A380 and replace, say, four or five flights done by A320s, with a single A380 flight? That would free up the smaller planes and crews, right?

More generally speaking; couldn't a non-legacy carrier use an A380 for their cash-cow city pair flight that's shorter than, say 4 hours, to free up aircraft?

In a way I'm trying to find a future for the A380. If it's not going to be used for transatlantic flights as much maybe it's a good solution in a different capacity?

Insights will be appreciated.

Where did I go wrong on my logic?
 
johns624
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Re: Second-hand A380s to free up smaller planes?

Wed Jan 26, 2022 2:25 am

Are those airports capable of handling the A380?
 
GalaxyFlyer
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Re: Second-hand A380s to free up smaller planes?

Wed Jan 26, 2022 3:17 am

A hugely expensive-to-operate plane on routes that are very price sensitive—I don’t think so. Additionally, it’s rapidly becoming an orphan making it even more expensive. Every spare, every rotable, every bit of engineering is unique to type and hence priced to market.
 
ACDC8
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Re: Second-hand A380s to free up smaller planes?

Wed Jan 26, 2022 3:51 am

The fact that a sector like TIJ to MEX that offers 22 flights a day is a bonus for the consumer. Plus the acquisition costs to obtain, maintain and operate a new aircraft type for a specific route would make it simply unappealing to an airline.
 
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PatrickZ80
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Re: Second-hand A380s to free up smaller planes?

Wed Jan 26, 2022 6:27 am

You can't simply congest multiple flights into one, what if that one flight is at an inconvenient time for the customer? Then he/she simply walks off to another airline that has a flight at a more convenient time.

The reason for such high frequencies is to give customers a choice at which time they want to fly. It's also much easier for the airline to cope should one aircraft go tech, they got plenty of others to catch up the demand.

The A380 is extremely expensive to operate at such short sectors, certainly as it would fly half empty most of the time. After all the total demand over the day might be high but the demand at any given time of the day is a lot lower. And what are you going to do if your one A380 goes tech? Where are you going to get the planes from to catch up your passengers? After all you've just put all of your smaller aircraft on other routes.

No, it would never work. There's a reason why the ULCCs were never interested in the A380, it's simply way too big. It's cheaper to operate multiple smaller planes than one big, and it allows you to fly at a higher frequency which for many people is important.
 
vedatil4
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Re: Second-hand A380s to free up smaller planes?

Wed Jan 26, 2022 2:13 pm

johns624 wrote:
Are those airports capable of handling the A380?


MEX yes, TIJ maybe.

But let's assume two cities have A380 capable gates.
 
johns624
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Re: Second-hand A380s to free up smaller planes?

Wed Jan 26, 2022 2:19 pm

vedatil4 wrote:
johns624 wrote:
Are those airports capable of handling the A380?


MEX yes, TIJ maybe.

But let's assume two cities have A380 capable gates.
Name them. It's not worth it for an airline to have a small subfleet of only a couple of planes. There would have to be a very serious business reason to have that. I don't see it anywhere.
 
vedatil4
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Re: Second-hand A380s to free up smaller planes?

Wed Jan 26, 2022 2:32 pm

Thanks everyone for the solid points made against the A380. I want it to stick around longer as a passenger plane but I understand it has to be at least potentially profitable.

Could second-hand A380s be converted into freighters at some point then? That was done with DC10, MD11, and 747. I'm not hearing the same for A380.
 
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PatrickZ80
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Re: Second-hand A380s to free up smaller planes?

Wed Jan 26, 2022 4:35 pm

vedatil4 wrote:
Could second-hand A380s be converted into freighters at some point then? That was done with DC10, MD11, and 747. I'm not hearing the same for A380.


Likely not, the floor isn't strong enough. It could only hold a limited amount of cargo. The same amount of cargo can also fit in a smaller aircraft such as a 777 which consumes less fuel.
 
vedatil4
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Re: Second-hand A380s to free up smaller planes?

Wed Jan 26, 2022 9:52 pm

In summary; is the A380 pretty much destined for the scrap yard then? Is there any role it might be able to fulfill in the future? It seems like they're quickly being dropped for the more fuel-efficient models.
 
GalaxyFlyer
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Re: Second-hand A380s to free up smaller planes?

Wed Jan 26, 2022 10:26 pm

vedatil4 wrote:
In summary; is the A380 pretty much destined for the scrap yard then? Is there any role it might be able to fulfill in the future? It seems like they're quickly being dropped for the more fuel-efficient models.


Pretty much it, scrap by 2030 or earlier.

I flew it a number of times ex-JFK on EK and, while in-flight was good enough, food was so-so like any airline flight. The business class bar was a nice idea, very pleasant, nice staff and always found a good conversation. The ability to board directly from the lounge was also nice.
 
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Boeing757100
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Re: Second-hand A380s to free up smaller planes?

Thu Jan 27, 2022 12:03 am

vedatil4 wrote:
Could second-hand A380s be converted into freighters at some point then? That was done with DC10, MD11, and 747. I'm not hearing the same for A380.


There was an A380F idea proposed by airbus and ordered by some airlines but it was cancelled before the turn of the 2010s. There were several things working against the A380F

- It fits only into Code F gates, which could be problematic for cargo operators who have packed hubs with many planes situated next to each other. Whole new gates needed to be built just for the A380 pax version. They'd probably have to park the 380Fs further away from their packaging areas and all that.
- It still has 4 engines which is inefficient in terms of fuel and maintenance.
- The safe MTOW would be exceeded if you filled both decks with freight. So essentially you always have to fly half empty. Too fat to fly at a profit
- The floor beams I have heard on the upper deck are not strong enough for heavy freight
- The sheer cost of even a 2nd hand frame would probably make the airlines puke. The A380 is becoming an orphan, so finding pilots, parts for maintenance, etc is going to be harder.
- Despite it being able to carry 60% more volume than the 747s, it only can carry 20% more weight
- It cannot handle outsize cargo due to the lack of a nose door, which makes the 747Fs much more attractive. In fact, Emirates Cargo ditched their A380F order for the 747-8F for this sole reason, until they cancelled those for the 777F in 2012.
- The engine commonality is abysmal. The 2 engine options for the A380 are almost exclusive to the A380. I've heard that 747-400s, MD-11s, some DC/MD-10s, and 767-300ERs can have interchangeable engines. This is more attractive compared to the A380.
- It would now have to compete with the more efficient 777XF, A350F, possible A330-900F, and also the more capable 747Fs. All of those planes have at least one advantage over the A380F that would make them appear a better investment.

There was a thread I made last year about a potential combi, but that is even worse of an idea.
viewtopic.php?t=1459571

Here are some drawbacks to THAT
- Combis are based out of remote areas, and A380s have problems of not fitting at airports. There's no way we're gonna have A380s flying into remote areas and those airports for sure won't have the money for building facilities for the A380
- Would still run into the volume problem as any full blown A380 freighter
- The ventilation systems for the pax has to be isolated in order for there to be special combi fire suppression systems. That is expensive.
- Combis are in decline. Even the 747-400M only had like 3 examples built.

So no, not happening
 
ZK-NBT
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Re: Second-hand A380s to free up smaller planes?

Thu Jan 27, 2022 12:14 am

To your latter point Boeing757100, there were 61 747-400Ms built, mainly for a handful of carriers, KL, OZ, CA, BR had most of those while AF and LH had some that were converted to full pax early on.
 
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Boeing757100
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Re: Second-hand A380s to free up smaller planes?

Thu Jan 27, 2022 12:49 am

ZK-NBT wrote:
To your latter point Boeing757100, there were 61 747-400Ms built, mainly for a handful of carriers, KL, OZ, CA, BR had most of those while AF and LH had some that were converted to full pax early on.



Never mind you are right. I must have confused the number 3 with the amount that KLM reactivated for a bit in 2020. Thanks for pointing it out! :)
 
ZK-NBT
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Re: Second-hand A380s to free up smaller planes?

Thu Jan 27, 2022 6:10 am

Boeing757100 wrote:
ZK-NBT wrote:
To your latter point Boeing757100, there were 61 747-400Ms built, mainly for a handful of carriers, KL, OZ, CA, BR had most of those while AF and LH had some that were converted to full pax early on.



Never mind you are right. I must have confused the number 3 with the amount that KLM reactivated for a bit in 2020. Thanks for pointing it out! :)



All good. KE had a single 744M and MH had 2, AC had 3 for smaller operators of 744Ms.

However I’m sure many of your other points are correct, I doubt Airbus could have sold enough to make an A380 Combi profitable even if there had been any interest. I wonder if anyone ever suggested it or showed any interest? KL maybe? Did they have any interest at all in a potential 748M? More likely than an A380 I’d think?
 
vedatil4
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Re: Second-hand A380s to free up smaller planes?

Thu Jan 27, 2022 4:21 pm

Thanks everyone for the comments on the A380. I'm accepting that its days are now numbered.

Do you think a "Queen of the Skies" 747 will still be flying somewhere after the last A380 is taken out of service then?
 
GalaxyFlyer
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Re: Second-hand A380s to free up smaller planes?

Thu Jan 27, 2022 5:18 pm

Certainly the freighters will be
 
Kent350787
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Re: Second-hand A380s to free up smaller planes?

Thu Jan 27, 2022 10:13 pm

vedatil4 wrote:
Thanks everyone for the comments on the A380. I'm accepting that its days are now numbered.

Do you think a "Queen of the Skies" 747 will still be flying somewhere after the last A380 is taken out of service then?


With the youngest 748F a similar age to the youngest A380, and frieghters generally having a longer life than passenger aircraft, it's almost certain that the 747 will be in service longer than the A380.

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