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The A380plus Will Probably Fail: Here’s Why

It’s a Lose-Lose For Both Passengers and Airlines

The A380plus appears at the Paris Air Show. Photo: Airbus

The Airbus A380 is easily known as the largest passenger aircraft in existence, entering commercial service in 2007. A big deal when it first came on the market, and even now, it can carry the most people on a regular basis, and continues to do so around the world. However, a trend’s popped up that can’t be ignored (and shouldn’t be ignored, if the major aircraft manufacturers know what’s good for them): in the airline industry, bigger isn’t always better. For that reason, the A380’s successor, the A380plus, may be doomed to failure.  Here’s why:

1.) Convenience is Better Than Size

Massive jets were created to circle the globe, whisking passengers away to far-off destinations, carrying 400 or 500 individuals at once. But at the end of the day, that’s just not what the greater public wants or needs. They’d prefer a convenient flight that gets them where they need to go, when they need to get there, without traversing a big hub. It’s why the A330 and 787s of the world are flying direct between smaller cities, and are continuing to do so. Not to mention, Boeing itself has acknowledged the downward trend in demand for super-sized jets; at the Paris Air Show, vice president of marketing Randy Tinseth expressed that, for lack of better words, the 747-8i and the A380 markets are dead.

2. The Fixed-Cost Problem Still Exists

Bigger planes are more expensive to fly. It’s simple fact. The A380plus may offer aerodynamic improvements to help out with some of the efficiency gap, but, fundamentally, four engines are more expensive to operate and maintain than two. They may need to take a page from Boeing’s book, and realize that efficiency is where it’s at in today’s market. Just look at the ultra-efficient 777X coming online in the next few years, and you’ll see where industry interest is headed.

3. The Plus doesn’t add up to more comfort

The interior of a commercial airplane should be all about the passenger — their comfort, accessibility and, again, convenience. The A380 was a very comfortable jet a 10 across seating. Unfortunately, when you’re jammed 11 into a row in economy on an A380, you begin to feel like you are in a sardine can. That’s the fallacy behind the “plus”.  It’s squeezing more seats into a jet at the expense of comfort.

We’re guessing that there will be very few (if any) orders ever materialize for the A380 Plus.

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