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747 VS A380: Who's The Bigger Victim of COVID-19?

Fri May 22, 2020 8:42 pm

Just been having these thoughts in the past week surrounding the massive A380 news.

COVID-19's causing accelerated retirements for several aircraft types and everything like that.

But when putting the 747 (passenger) against the A380 in this situation, who's the bigger victim? Will we see airlines accelerate the phase out of more 747s or A380s first?

Everything so far because of COVID-19:

Boeing 747-400
- KLM accelerated retirement of remaining -400s and removed Combis from passenger service.
- Virgin Atlantic retired their remaining 747s
- British Airways retired two along with contemplating accelerated retirement for the entire fleet.
- Lufthansa retired 5 747-400s.
- Corsair retired its remaining 3 747-400s.
- Qantas has "grounded" theirs and sent a few 747s to the desert, but there's a scheduled 747-400 flight in a few months according to Airlineroute.

At the moment, Air China has one active 747-400, British Airways one, Wamos Air two, and that's about it.

Airbus A380
- Air France retired entire fleet two days ago.
- Etihad rumored to retire entire fleet.
- Lufthansa retires 7 A380s
- Emirates rumored to retire a portion of the fleet, but these rumors were dismissed.

Every A380 operator has grounded their A380s except for China Southern Airlines and Hi Fly's one A380 operating cargo flights.

So, who's the bigger victim? Or is it too early to tell the true impact of this crisis? If so, who's the bigger victim at the moment?
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Re: 747 VS A380: Who's The Bigger Victim of COVID-19?

Fri May 22, 2020 11:56 pm

COVID has accelerated 747 retirements, but it was already well onto a pathway to the end of its passenger life. The acceleration has been realistically a couple of years.

The A380 is the real "victim". I think with pre-COVID volumes itwould have had a solid 5-10 yearfuture with mainstream airlines. But with even trunk routes likely to see a medium term slowdown, the case for half-full leased A380s is less likely to work.
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Re: 747 VS A380: Who's The Bigger Victim of COVID-19?

Sat May 23, 2020 7:04 am

As Kent350787 mentioned and based on their ages, definitely the A380 is the victim. To be fair, it was already on its way out slowly but this was definitely another crippling blow.
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Re: 747 VS A380: Who's The Bigger Victim of COVID-19?

Sun May 24, 2020 3:09 am

As for the 747 is concerned, you can also count the TG birds, I doubt we will see them again unfortunately.

But the 747 retirement was well underway. Covid has just accelerated the process and the biggest part of those 747 are in their 20s. The youngest, the CI ones are around 15. The 747 survived any crises, 9-11....

Now we see some less than 10 years old A380being retire. So I would still say that the A380 is the big victim. If the airlines really loved them, they would probably store them and wait for better days, but now we are talking about total retirement
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Re: 747 VS A380: Who's The Bigger Victim of COVID-19?

Mon May 25, 2020 3:53 pm

Agreed with everyone here. The passenger 747 was well on its way to retirement already. Everyone expected the 747-400 to be gone from airlines fleets within the next 2-4 years regardless. I think BA would have been the last mainstream carrier with the 747-400 or maybe LH in 2023-2024 range. But now it may be accelerated a year or two.

But no one thought the A380 was going to be gone with so many airlines (possibly more) at this point. There were even a handful to be delivered to EK. Now, who knows. I thought we would start seeing large A380 retirements in 5-7 years from now. Not now. Personally I have yet to fly on an A380, and the plane still feels "new" to me. But it was a while ago when I remember it taking its first flight when I was in high school or its first landing in MIA with LH in the summer of 2011.

Anyway, I am hopeful that BA, LH and some Asian carriers will keep them for a bit longer. EK fleet is too dependent on them to be retired fast from EK. Regardless in the next year or so I will need to make an effort to get on one, even if its a flight to nowhere get on one and come right back.

But it is certainly the A380, as the 747-400 was already into the swing of retirement. And we will continue to see the 747-400 and 748i in cargo flying for many more years, maybe decades. While there are no A380 freighters and does not look like there ever will be.
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Re: 747 VS A380: Who's The Bigger Victim of COVID-19?

Tue May 26, 2020 10:24 am

I read this article just earlier today and thought how telling it is of the situation and where both airframes have ended up.


Some telling quotes
“The A380 is not only an outstanding engineering and industrial achievement. Passengers all over the world love to fly on this great aircraft. Hence today’s announcement is painful for us and the A380 communities worldwide. But, keep in mind that A380s will still roam the skies for many years to come and Airbus will of course continue to fully support the A380 operators.”

From here, it can be reasonably expected that early, heavier A380s in particular will come off lease and be scrapped, but there is also likely to be a cohort of superjumbos that will be refitted and continue to operate for decades to come.

this demand is unlikely to fade, Airbus insisted in its statement to Australian Aviation about the future of the aircraft. “The A380 redefined flying experience in the 21st century and has ferried over 250 million passengers who absolutely love it. Many more millions will be inspired by the majesty of this iconic aircraft over the coming decades.”

And this final one.
“The case for keeping their A380s is strengthened by the fact that existing operators of the aircraft still have over 50 747-400s greater than 18 years of age in their fleets,” Airbus said. “If there was one aircraft the A380 was designed to replace it was the 747-400. There are another 60 747-400s in service around the world with non-A380 customers.”

While the A380 will almost certainly see the departure of the 747-400 the future isn't as rosy as Airbus wanted us to believe just over a year ago. Sure COVID has played a massive role in that but demand just hasn't been there from airlines for years and COVID has hastened what was likely inevitable. Agree with others that the 747 was on the slide anyway and it seems unlikely the 748 will see the time in service its earlier siblings enjoyed.
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Re: 747 VS A380: Who's The Bigger Victim of COVID-19?

Tue May 26, 2020 3:42 pm

Advantages of the passenger 747's over the A380 include better non-pax baggage freight capacity, that can be flown and operated in/out of many airports A380's can't so more flexibility, still being made, strong support by Boeing, not as much pax capacity so 'right sized' where need high pax capacity and the ability to convert them to freighters. Of course, both the 747's, especially older ones not worth operating even beyond the pandemic or for freight conversions and 380's, especially early/older models are going to see large numbers stored and eventually scrapped.

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