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Is British Airways planning to order new A380 aircraft?

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Bloomberg reported on Friday that British Airways is in negotiations with Airbus to order an additional tranche of A380 aircraft.

There could be some truth in this.  IAG has said that it would be willing to buy 6-7 second hand A380 aircraft, and there are a lot of them on the market.  Emirates and Singapore Airlines have started to retire their earliest aircraft and Malaysia Airlines was, at one point, trying to offload theirs too.

There is a snag with these ‘old’ (10-12 years old at most) aircraft though.

Apart from engine issues (BA is only likely to want A380 aircraft with engines which match the existing Rolls-Royce fleet), the earliest A380 aircraft were substantially heavier than promised.  Whilst there is always a price that would make a deal work, the desperation for orders at Airbus means that getting new aircraft at a big discount may be a better choice

Perhaps more importantly, Airbus has published new options for potential customers (click to enlarge slightly):

New A380 options with cabin enablers

As you can see from the slide above, there is the potential to add an extra 78 seats for airlines who are willing to remove the main staircase and, by raising the level of the upper deck, move to 11 across in Economy in a 3-5-3 configuration.  The seat width remains the same due to narrower aisles and the removal of at-window storage.  The Airbus website explains in more detail how this would be done.

John Leahy from Airbus told Bloomberg Television last week, according to the article linked to above, that he expected a European airline to confirm an A380 order this year.  British Airways is believed to be the carrier.

The Emirates order for 36 new A380 aircraft placed last week means that the aircraft will continue to be built for at least another decade, giving BA more confidence if it does move forward.

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Comments (55)

  • David S says:

    I love the A380 and would happily pay a small premium to fly on it

  • Martin says:

    Rob,

    Julian makes a good point about the A380 engines being under-stressed, which ought to translate into fewer maintenance issues. The new engine for the 777X is a total beast.

    Engines in the tail seem to be only for small jets these days. The DC-10 had its safety issues, but the L-1011 was successful, at least in engineering terms – it nearly bankrupted Lockheed and RR of course.

    • Rob says:

      Different Rob here, interesting point but you still have the weight to lug around; its a bit of a balancing act.

      I know some A350 operators (SQ, CX) re-certify the plane for a lower MTOW and adjust the thrust (the pilot still puts 100% power on but the engine doesn’t goto its max potential; its a bit more complex but that’s the basic). That’s sensible if you have a large fleet and they cover a similar range (some A350s have extreme ranges and some Cathays/Sin are used for sub 5 hour flights), however, that’s not really possibly with BA’s small A380 fleet and routes.

      Just to add, the early A380s had custom wiring as well as being overweight. Along with the RR engines they also missed the PIPs and wing twists. If I were Cruz I would do the same thing, dont touch the older a380s with a barge pole in order to push AB into a good deal on new ones; another 8 or so would be sensible to BA given the routes they can deploy on, slots and seat utilisation. Said before, i would have A350-1000 over new A380s any day though.

  • Phil says:

    OT –

    Rob (or anyone else) have you received your Curve card yet? Any initial comments?