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Implications Of A United Airlines A380 Superjumbo Order

There has been a rumor that has come from reliable sources at United Airlines (NYSE:UAL) that states the company is in intermediate stages in ordering the Airbus A380 - the world's largest passenger aircraft. Airbus (OTCPK:EADSY) is reportedly going to be giving United two A380 aircraft on a trial basis that were originally destined for the now bankrupt Skymark Airlines of Japan. ( More...

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Mike Boote 9
"reliable sources" who remain unidentified usually amount to unreliable sources. I thought the article was written as if it was what the writer really wished United would do. The business model for United and the A380 just doesn't exist, as it doesn't exist with any US carrier, PARTICULARLY with only two examples of the aircraft. Boeing and Airbus seem to be in agreement here that the A380 doesn't work with US carrier's business model. I also remember an article about a year ago claiming Delta was going to get two A380's from a leasing company, rather than white tails. Didn't happen then either.
Chuck Me 3
It's Seeking Alpha. Basically a blog filled with people writing posts to tout their positions in a stock. Some good things can be found, but much of it is garbage.

Don't take it too seriously.
preacher1 3
Definitely not in the business model. That said, what all does TRIAL BASIS cover if they do bring them in. SFO sounds like a good jumping off point, but there are several possibilities if they brought them in.
msubootstrap 4
I stopped reading once the author compared a A380 to a 737.
preacher1 2
The only reason that comparison was made was to give you an idea of the size difference.
Tim Duggan 6
Just in case anyone is interested? The most senior pilots at UAL must be 'salivating' about this are the current (and future) pay rates on the A380 (existing Contract):

Currently (2015) CA = $369.02/hour. 1 Jan 2016 = $380.09/hour. 1 Jan 2017 = $391.49/hour.

Currently (2015) FO = $252.04/hour. 1 Jan 2016 = $259.60/hour. 1 Jan 2017 = $267.39/hour.

I just thought it'd be "fun" to mention this......
Barrett Reed 1
What is the average amount of hours a pilot fly's per week?
preacher1 2
Well, if they were to do as the article suggest and go to China out of SFO, you would have a bare miminmum of 16 hrs. 8 over & 8 back per week, depending on exact destination. At the rates above that's about 6 grand or 300 grand per year. That's just very rough figuring but it ain't chicken feed.
canuck44 1
That is a 14 1/2 eastbound 16 hours westbound. For a pilot wanting his full 80 hours These are tough numbers for a pilot wanting to fill his 80 hour block as two round trips bring sixty hours. The best would be a half trip but half to sit out in China every second block to get 75 hours.
30west 1
Tough scheduling nut to crack with a long haul fleet of two aircraft on one long route.
canuck44 1
You are right...have a friend who was an Air Canada captain on 747s was offered A340s when the 74s were sold. Route was Vancouver to Sydney but more than 60 hours per block was the most he could get. Chose 763 with full hours. More money with better hours and variety for layovers.
preacher1 1
Still dang good money and they are doing it for less today. The big question is if the route is THICK enough to support the extra capacity. We'll see.
30west 1
Here is my take.

It's about a 10,800 nm round trip. I think the round trip block time which is what their pay is based upon would be in the 22-23 hour range, maybe 24 if the flight is scheduled during peak arrival/departure times at the airports.

Three of those three day trips per month would be close to monthly guarantee (I don't know what their line holder guarantee is, but my guess is 78 hours/month), make it a 3 1/2 trips per month using the monthly changeover and it would be a full month with a line worth over guarantee. Lines built to only three round trips would wind up being a month paid at guarantee.


CAPT/FO annual base pay at 78 hours per month in 2015 would be $345,400/$235,900. Add to that night and international pay per hour plus-ups, assuming that they are not included, and you have the annual pay.
paul trubits 1
Nice work if you can get it.
preacher1 2
yep. LOL. I'd be salivating too, I believe.
Potentially some MAS A388 available, possibly at a low price
preacher1 1
It gave the Airline name in the article but can't remember. Some bankrupt Japanese startup that didn't start.
744pnf 1
I think it would be interesting to see if UAL can justify flying the A388 out of KIAD to EGLL (they already have 3-4 daily flights) or to the Middle East.
canuck44 0
More likely to use them EWR to LHR particularly in early evening where they now have one 777 and two 763's.
preacher1 1
Article speaks of SFO to China and that part of the world. As is noted here though, thee are other opportunities if this comes to pass.
If I read the original article correctly, Airbus are 'giving' on a trial basis two aircraft so I imagine this to be an opportunity for UNITED and AIRBUS to give BOEING a kick up the rear! The B747-8I seemingly does not offer enough to manage any of those quality long haul routes.

Emirates apart, most operators of the 380 market the aircraft as a premium product at standard fares in economy cabin with any extras available on board at a modest cost and passengers willing to pay rather than have them as an unused but paid for benefit within the ticket price.

If United do take this up and succeed with it and then buy up surplus MAS and older Emirates versions, then a stampede of orders for potential upgrade model may then ensue!

Perhaps US carriers are waiting for used aircraft to lease as Emirates begin to offload early models in favour of the expected upgraded versions with new engines.

I further wonder how many US citizens fly the return
leg of any A380 service from any airport I.e. LAX -LHR simply because it is the A380? Another Concorde experience perhaps?
nicole ngono 1
Never i will fly on an A380 . US carriers are right not to buy it .
To be sincere , i prefer Boeing , i feel more safe in a Boeing aircraft than an Airbus .
joel wiley 2
Just my parochial outlook, but it's hard to envision a plane that big being used as a loss leader to get its nose under the American market tent flap. I guess some would see that it's a better use than a direct flight from the factory to the boneyard.
preacher1 4
Well, it's 2 that were sold and now they are not and it does present a chance to get under the flap. Who knows what those Frenchies are thinking. That said and being a lifelong Boeing man, Boeing needs to look over their shoulder. Time was, an Airbus rep was not taken seriously or maybe thrown a bone to leave, but now, they walk in with the same stature of the Boeing guy.
Kind of like going to the showers as innocent folk but walking out of the showers somewhat diminished in outlook?

Airbus sit with built but unsold aircraft and devise a plan of try as you buy scheme and sit back for the prey to bite!

These aircraft are just waiting for some brave CEO to commit and grab them and then deploy them upon their most subscribed route and then market this as a premium product and service experience.

Remember Concorde never made economic sense alone but as part of the fleet, it was never flying with unoccupied seats and was the pulling power of BA and Air France.

A380 was and is a crowd puller, it stops traffic and has become a draw for business for the operators of the aircraft.

I therefore ask one question, just exactly what is the impediment for US airlines to consider A380? And exactly why all the current operators fill the flights?
preacher1 1
Well, a big move that will be interesting. One of the chief things in my mind is what price they can get them for.
They would likely get a great deal (sounds like two "loaners" may be a good start) to get the A388 established with a US carrier.
The arguments in the article seem to make sense to me.
preacher1 1
Yeah, they make good business sense. Don't know about Wall Street but it does to normal people and to UAL. They ought to just stand back and watch, they might learn something.
chalet 1
Back in the 70s Braniff acquired a couple of 747s one of which "747 Braniff Place" a.k.a. Fat Albert was used exclusively on the DFW-HNL-DFW run approximately 8 hours flight time each leg. This was a money maker for a variety of reasons: it attracted lots of passengers, good service on board and maintenace was two orders of magnitude less costly than other long range aircraft as each cycle was a whopping 8 hours long. See why a couple or more 380s can not be operated on long thick routs over the Pacific and make money in the process.
744pnf 1
"...380s can not be operated on long thick routes over the Pacific and make money..." It is called competition.
chalet 2
And then there is the well documented leasing of 4 Airbus 300 to Eastern Airlines (reportedely at zero cost other than fuel, crew and maintenance) which after a short while showing 30% less fuel burn than the Lockheed Tristar and then as the saying goes, the rest was history which in this particular instance was an initial (and desperately needed) sale of 22 such aircraft to Eastern placing Airbus for the first time as a real world contender in the cutthroat airframe making business.
Joseph Nevis 1
United said "nope, not something we want"
Paul Smith 1
A Flightglobal story quotes John Rainey, UA CFO, that the 380 does not fit in the airlines plans, and this story says it is in the airline plan.
StarFlyr 1
One of the old-timers once told me back in the ole days,40s-50s. a Captain could buy a new Ford with his monthly pay check. It appears that a United A380 pilot will be able to buy a Rolls Royce with his yearly check. Or a low end Ford with his monthly pay check.
Frank Vila 1
Very Interesting to see.. and for once I like to see if US airlines can lead the Way of Air travel like once we was. International and Domestic. Good for UAL


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