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A380 does not work for United: CFO

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United Airlines chief financial officer John Rainey says the Airbus A380 “doesn’t really work” for the airline’s network, driving its preference for smaller widebodies like the Boeing 787. “We’ve looked at that and we are looking at it right now [but] it just doesn’t really work for us,” he says on the European superjumbo in an exclusive interview with Flightglobal in Chicago today. (www.flightglobal.com) More...

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nasdisco
Chris B 3
It isn't an aircraft that American based airlines which are domestic biased have been able to make sense. More internationally attentive airlines seem ok with the numbers they have. I'm just waiting for cheap airlines like Ryan to lease used units take them to max economy seat layout and fly the atlantic
Flyboy187
Nathan Quast 4
I think the A380 has served mostly to answer the question: "How big is too big?"
rad2
The reasons given are right down the line that was debated when the builders decided which way to serve the markets of, then the future, and those markets are in place today. Four engine, super jumbos only work in certain markets and United doesn't play there. In my opinion, the Persian Gulf hubs are the only major playground for the A380.
wopri
The A380 seems to be working quite well on the Europe to Johannesburg routes. Air France cancelled the A380 on the Paris-Montréal route where they couldn't fill the business class and switched them to Paris-Johannesburg. British Airways and Lufthansa also use A380 on their flights to J'burg.
preacher1
preacher1 1
Ain't Lufthansa running into SFO from somewhere over there or did they just bring that one in for show a few months back?
wopri
Yes, DLH454 is on an A380.
preacher1
preacher1 1
This certainly puts the kibosh on the other post about Airbus trying to put 2 into UAL on a trial basis.
ralpharbeid
Ralph Arbeid 1
Air France, Lufthansa and British Airways are flying multiple flights per day to US destinations like JFK, LAX and others, with at least one of these flights serviced by the A380. The A380's are almost always fully booked because objectively it is a great plane. Therefore the arguments offered by the United FO are dictated by the preference for a US made plane rather than a European made plane. I thought United management would be more objective. Very disappointing
djames225
djames225 2
I do not know where you got your info for A380's being almost always fully booked..If I have a craft that seats 850 people in it and its not 850 seats full, Im losing money..United does have an order in for Airbus A350 which can seat up to 440 people...and out of all the airports in the US, only 11 can handle and want the thing landing at their airport..remember, its not all about the aircraft itself, but about the logistics of their airports being able to/wanting to handle something that big
jcsjcs
jcsjcs 1
I think most A380 flying the Atlantic or Pacific will have around 600 seats. 850 is the maximum the A380 is certified for.
djames225
djames225 1
Configurations of seats for Air France, BA and Lufthansa is around 510-525 seats..if u look down at the comment I made to Ralph, you can understand United and a number of other airline's thinkings.
ralpharbeid
Ralph Arbeid 1
Hi, I tried to book (end July) on the AF A380 to LAX and both first and business class are full. I think they seat a total of 550 pax. I flew the 380 to HKG and fully booked, JNB the same.
djames225
djames225 2
I am going to do some more digging but I found out some nifty things..Airbus is shooting themselves in the foot with the A350 the same wasy Boeing shot itself in the foot with the 777's vs the 747..Kudos big time to United for digging..the total cost per nautical mile to fly the A380 is a whopping $59.72 in the typical 525-545 seat layout..the A350 in seat capacity of 369 seats is #30.91..which means it can fly 738 people for $2.00 more per nautical mile and land at more airports than its big brother
wopri
A quick look at the number of seats on A380 as shown on SeatGuru gave me the following:

Qatar
First 8, Business 48, Economy 461, total 517


Air France
First 9, Business 80, Premium Economy 38, Economy 389, total 516


British Airways
First 14, Club World 97, Premium Economy 55, Economy 303, total 469


Lufthansa
First 8, Business 98, Economy 420, total 617


Quantas
First 14, Business 64, Premium Economy 35, Economy 371, total 484


Singapore
First 12, Business 60, Economy 399, total 471


Nowhere near 850 seats.
djames225
djames225 2
We know..850 is max number Airbus is certified for..it was an analogy..interesting isnt it...you pay $320 million for an aircraft and only put in say BA 469 seats...oh and Lufthansa has 3 different configurations..the 1 u listed is 526 seats...I can buy 2 A350-800 (the smallest ) fill both planes with 552 people total (276 passengers typical layout in this craft), only costs me $305 to purchase both craft, cost less per nautical mile (still cheaper to fly both craft than 1 A380)
rad2
What is objective, is to fit the plane that best serves the market the company wishes to pursue. If the market demand is 3 turns of less than 200 seats, than a plane with 350+ seats is much too big. On the other hand if there is a 800 seat demand for each turn than the big boats make sense. Please stay with the business objectives and keep the nationalism out.
ralpharbeid
Ralph Arbeid 1
Roger, why does none of the US airlines even look at the A380? All have the same business objectives?
rad2
The same reason they didn't buy the 747-8i. Large twins seem to make the most sense right now. Fuel is a major issue. Fleet commonality is another. It will be interesting to see if the A350 can cut the market against the 777-300er and the 787s.

One must remember the US domestic market is a big part of the US based airlines. That is something that is a much smaller part of the business in other areas. China is also going for the short to mid range twins. The era of the ultra huge, 4 engine fuel drinkers is about over. Yes, there will be a few heavy lift, long range opportunities available, but existing airframes may cover that for the near future.
ralpharbeid
Ralph Arbeid 1
You made your point. I don't know the fuel consumption rate per pax per mile for the 350 against 787 or 380 but I thought that they pretty well are the same. Anyway let's see what Airbus will do to make the 380 attractive for US carriers
udittforth
The A380 is a great airplain, maybe the best. But the airlines forgot, that the most pasenger use the economy. More comfort for first and business - yes, but the same bad seats in economy. Use better seats and fly with 100 pasengers less. that would be great, and the passengers would also accept a surcharge.
vanstaalduinenj
Good for United
They clearly have some loyalty to Boeing and make an effort to make Boeing planes like the 787 a part of the future.
preacher1
preacher1 7
I think they have a loyalty to what makes sense dollar wise. They have some buses in their fleet, don't they?
jkudlick
They have a lot of 320-family airframes. In fact, prior to absorbing CAL's 737 fleet, they had replaced all of their 737s with 319s and 320s.
GuamPilot
Michael Wendt 0
I'm a United Airlines pilot and I thank God everyday that United management has not ordered any A380.

I believe when the history of the A380 is written (soon) it will be shown that Airbus never sold one at a profit and no airline made a profit over their whole period of ownership.

And I will predict that the last A380 will be built before 2020.
djames225
djames225 1
I agree Michael...how many seats are filled on every A380 flight, what airports want them in, the total cost of the units (acquisition, fuel, airport allowance and maintenance)...I have a buddy at BA and he cant stand the tord
chevyrecycler34
jim entwistle -1
Concorde being a case in point, yàll couldn't make it so slagged it off, too noisy too expensive yet they very nearly always flew full. And what caused the start of it`s demise ? a chunk of metal that fell off a US made jet !
Likewise a superb aircraft like the A380 gets slagged off or "buffed".
Might I just ask how many buffer duffers have actually experienced flying on/in a 380 ? take off and in flight ?.
Suck it up all you Boeing junkies, there are good/great planes being made this side of the pond.
djames225
djames225 1
What the heck has that got to do with the article at hand??? United doesnt want a huge plane like the 380 when 2 smaller craft can do a better, cheaper job...oh and 1 of those jets is the A350
JENNYJET
One can never trust the utterances of a 'journalist' hence my post yesterday on this matter needs to be read post contextually.

However, I feel that UNITED passing this opportunity by, if there ever one existed, means someone else may take up the chance of trying the A380 before buying, a well used retail trick. Remember, once it's gone, it's gone!
fyitaf
paul mosher 1
The only reason it will be gone is if no one buys it. I think uniyed understands their market and their equipment needs.
preacher1
preacher1 1
That probably at least mean that Airbus is or will be offering the same deal to someone else.
JENNYJET
If there is integrity in Aircraft business, others will have been watching and Airbus are so stupid as to omit others.
siriusloon
siriusloon 0
"One can never trust the utterances of a 'journalist'..."

Riiiight, because sweeping generalisations are *always* correct.
JENNYJET
Look at recent judgments from UK courts, hacking proved whilst being denied, the United offer of A380 jets? Trusted journalism?
vanstaalduinenj
Yup they do, no wide bodies yet but the article says they have orders for the 350.
Just flew on 320 from Chicago to Pearson
But the CFO reiterated how key the 787 was to them.
n914wa
Mike Boote 1
They have 35 A350-1000's on order with 40 options. Estimate deliveries start in 2018.
ralpharbeid
Ralph Arbeid 1
Because the A350 is objectively the best plane in its segment
preacher1
preacher1 1
Well, I thought they did, just wasn't sure. I'm a thinkin that they just have the wide bodies on order to fill in delivery time on the 787's and the new 777x. Seems they have a few of those in the pipeline.
ilovetofly767
Miles Fink 0
Why would someone even want just 2 of them? It would just seem odd because a long distantance route may require 2 planes. 1 route with planes like that is probably cost prohibitive.
joelwiley
joel wiley 0
Just because it doesn't work economically, doesn't mean you shouldn't buy one or two.
attributed to Fabrice Bergier
skyhawkrg
skyhawkrg -1
The A380 takes the acronym BUFF away from the B-52 bomber.
joelwiley
joel wiley -1
Which 'F' is for 'French', the first or the second?
jkudlick
I think it's missing an 'F' - BUFFF. :)
Southern2005
高 烽 -2
flightA380
skyhawkrg
skyhawkrg -3
Big Ugly Fat F---er
joelwiley
joel wiley 2
Since BUFF is an already established FLA, may I suggest you use BUFFF, a different FLA.

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