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British Airways looking to buy more A380’s – and Virgin Atlantic buying A350-1000’s

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It is looking like we are about to see a burst of long-haul aircraft orders from both British Airways and Virgin Atlantic.

Speaking at a recent conference in Dublin, Willie Walsh, CEO of BA’s parent IAG, made a public statement that he wanted to add another five or six A380’s to the existing British Airways fleet of 12 – the final two of which have yet to be delivered.

There is a lot of politics in this statement.  His comment that he may lease rather than buy due to the high Airbus ticket price is simply a shot across the bows of their pricing team.  Airbus has only added three A380 orders in the last 18 months or so, for Japanese airline ANA.

A380 1

At the same time, Malaysia Airlines is looking to offload its A380 fleet of six aircraft.  These come with the Rolls-Royce engines which IAG is insisting upon in order to match the existing fleet.

Amazingly, Emirates is already planning to sell it first batch of A380’s as being ‘too old’ but these are primarily GE / Pratt & Whitney powered.  Five early Singapore Airlines A380 aircraft with Rolls-Royce engines may also become available soon if, as is believed, Singapore does not renew their lease.

Meanwhile, over at Virgin Atlantic, Bloomberg reports that the airline is about to agree a deal for 12 Airbus A350-1000 aircraft.

I discussed the different models of A350 aircraft in this article in December.  Once launched (Qatar will be first to receive them) it will be the largest of the three A350 variants.

The deal, for delivery from 2018, is likely to see the end of Boeing 747 and A340 operations and would give Virgin a mixed Boeing 787 / Airbus A350 fleet.

Whilst the Bloomberg piece does not mention it, I wouldn’t be surprised if Virgin is trying to negotiate with Airbus to get out of its outstanding A380 order as part of a deal to take the A350s.

Comments (25)

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  • James says:

    I’ve always said BA would end up with more than 12 whales. Interestingly WW goes on to say these 380s may be for joint BA/Iberia use.

    • Paul says:

      BA & IB now look at configuring their aircraft in a way that means they could easily transfer between the airlines. Having a common galley layout etc. Would still swap out all the seats for their own etc.

  • Troll Basher says:

    The earlier SQ examples are heavy, suffering from the rewiring issues encountered due to earlier CATIA problems and the wing chord mods, so I can’t imagine IAG touching them with a barge pole.

    • rich says:

      Ibwould think the malaysian birds are the most likely

      • Oh! Matron! says:

        My thoughts exactly. I can see a firesafe happening very quickly, especially given Malaysian are part of oneWorld

        • Lady London says:

          ‘Firesale’ is not a very encouraging word given some of the early problems. I was just trying to remember which of the engines was reported to have fires at the beginning. Also recently A380’s were grounded – I think it was the Rolls Royce engine. Having said that I love flying in the aircraft. But as I’m superstitious – yes I know it’s irrational – , will there be any way of tracing if any of the MH A380’s end up being flown by IAG?

      • James67 says:

        It would seem to be the most obvious, however, I’m not so sure because MAS enjoys good loads on their double daily a380 LHR rotation so why scrap them. Furthermore, loads could get a further boost .with the demise of CDG and FRA (LH slso axed the route) because many OW passengers will probably prefer to route to those places via one MAS longhaul and one BA short hop as opposed to 2 x midhaul with MH and EK. I can see MAS keeping their a380s. My money is on BA buying new as suggested by Rob. If not that then I think the 6 TG aircraff are the most likely, Thai are offloading assets bigtime at the moment in order to reduce their debts. The odd thing about Thai is that they have always struggled to get the best out their a380s despite BKK being second only to LHR for a380 destinations (discounting the najor a380 hubs).

        • Lady London says:

          One of my best flights was TG in the 380 from BKK to Paris. 16 hours in the air, of pure bliss.

          • James67 says:

            How come it took 16 hours? Have many fond memiries with Thsi too, when they got it right they were hard to beat.

      • Mark says:

        Politics aside I’d be very surprised if it were not new aircraft. BA operates a policy of buying new and running aircraft into the ground (Hopefully not literally!). Even recent leases for the long haul fleet, specifically some of the 777-300ERs have been new, and those were more down to getting aircraft at relatively short notice. Even with the same engine type getting second hand aircraft into exactly the same configuration is not likely to make it a cheap option, and differing configurations will create their own operational challenges.

        It wasn’t that long ago that WW was saying no more A380s. Given the wider relationship between IAG and Airbus I’m sure a deal will be done.

  • Simmo says:

    OT. Something I’ve always wondered…..
    Why does BA only do 3 class to Bangkok? (and on a 777 Plane?) (KUL = 787, SIN a380)

    I would have thought that it was a massively popular holiday stop on the way to the Thai Islands, as well as business in Bangkok?

    Genuine vested interest, as booked in Club for Aug, and an paid/avios upgrade to First would be the icing on the cake!

    • Hingeless says:

      Probably because it is a holidaymakers route rather than a business route, nobody would pay cash for F

    • CV3V says:

      Did a recent KUL flight on the 777 and on way out CW was near capacity, on the return flight in First it was full. The KUL route does have a decent amount of business bookings and the UK strong business links with Malaysia and Singapore. Hong Kong is even better, speaking to CX cabin crew they said all their flight to LHR are always full, and if they could add more flights they know they could fill them.

      The Malaysian Airlines recent hand baggage only debacle never made it onto HfP, but after that I wouldn’t want to risk going on holiday with MAS. Long story short, they imposed a temporary ban on checked in luggage on their flights from Europe, blaming it on headwinds! Strangely, it was later reversed for the LHR route, but not the AMS or CDG routes.

      • James67 says:

        I have a friend who’s a CX purser based out of LHR. He said the crew detest their 773s and many conider leaving just because of the aircraft. It seems that they long for a380s: it’s odd CX remain disinterested despite their potentil for further growth between whats possibly the most congested pair of airports in the world.

    • James67 says:

      It’s simple really…both F and J on the old 744s were dominated by redemotions. crew and their family and friends. I doubt the 772s are much different. I hate these aircraft with a passion so wrote BA to ask if there was any plan to change to a 787-9 or something else. The answer was no,

      • will says:

        Yes business on a 772 and an A380 are quite different experiences with BA. I was shocked how worn the 772 was to BKK when I flew in December.

        • James67 says:

          Yes, theh are done, and dirty too. However on my most recent KUL-LHR flight the cabin had been upgraded and was much nicer experience.

  • Henk says:

    It’s not just about having a full cabin, it’s also about the price you get for those seats. Thailand has traditionally been a holiday destination – on my last trip there on QR it seemed that most business class passengers were leisure travellers, probably with lowish fares.

    Malaysian reversed its checked baggage ban pretty quickly to be fair. The difference between London and AMS/CDG was in the aircraft type. But it it was caused by MH taking a much longer route to KUL than other airlines. They actively avoided Russian air space, and tbh I can’t say I blame them,. But they could probably have found a better solution. However, that might have meant leaving some passengers behind altogether, or at least finding alternative routes for them. Probably a better solution than the checked bags ban.

    • CV3V says:

      MAS may have reversed it relatively quickly, but then ‘headwinds’ don’t last long either. Any long haul airline that says it can’t accept any checked in baggage has big problems, who wants to go for a fortnights holiday in Asia on the premise your luggage will follow on in a few days!

  • JAXBA says:

    [Pedant] Errant apostrophes in the headline – s/b A380s and A350-1000s [/Pedant] 🙂

  • jimmy says:

    Very well spotted! Very well done!

    Glad you pointed that out, could hardly read it before!

  • Mark says:

    Tonight on Quest channel 37 Freeview, Planes that changed the world, A380 episode. Presumably available on QuestOD.

  • Jono says:

    With BA wanting to order 6 and Vaa wanting to cancel 6, surely it’s possible that Airbus is trying to arrange a deal for BA to take over the Virgin A380 order to turn it into a positive announcement for that program?

    • Rob says:

      Given the VS A380 order will be worth at least $1bn even after discounts, I reckon Airbus will want to hold them to it unless Virgin pulls something special out of the hat to compensate.

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

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