British Airways eyes more Airbus  A380s

British Airways eyes more Airbus A380s

Airbus is in talks to sell new A380 superjumbo planes to British Airways this year after securing a program-saving deal from Emirates, according to people familiar with the matter. 

The U.K. carrier, which currently has a dozen A380s in its fleet, had said in the past that it was looking for six to seven second-hand A380s.

Now it’s considering taking a larger number of new ones, said the people, who asked not to be named because the discussions are private.

Airbus’s outgoing head of sales, John Leahy, said on Bloomberg Television Friday he was confident the European planemaker would secure one more A380 order this year. That customer is British Airways, the people said. Airbus and BA parent IAG both declined to comment.

British Airways is interested in the superjumbo because of the jet’s ability to maximize the number of passengers per flight at its London Heathrow hub, which is running close to capacity limits.

The carrier’s main focus is on North Atlantic routes that are among the world’s busiest long-haul services, and it ranks as the number one operator of Boeing's 747 jumbo, the second-biggest passenger plane after the A380.

BA is examining a deal for new planes after concluding that refurbishing used examples of the Airbus behemoth for its own needs would be too expensive, one of the people said. The carrier’s superjumbos are fitted out in a four-class configuration featuring 469 seats, according to its website.

IAG Chief Executive Officer Willie Walsh has been mulling the business case for second-hand A380s for as least two years, with planes becoming available as the oldest ones come off lease from Singapore Airlines after a decade of service. Walsh also ran the rule over six younger aircraft deemed surplus to requirements at Malaysia Airlines.

An order for new double-deckers from IAG would help vindicate Airbus’s efforts to save the A380, which Leahy said Monday might be scrapped after failing to attract a buyer for more than two years. That was before Emirates announced its deal for as many as 36 planes worth US$16 billion.

While Airbus says that order will keep the A380 production line going for more than a decade, it’s still looking at slashing build rates to just six annually from 12 this year. Follow-on orders from carriers such as British Airways are therefore still vital in lifting the annual tally to a level where the manufacturer can break even on each plane.

 

31 comments

  • cd1982

    cd1982

    21 Jan, 2018 02:42 am

    I can't understand why this hasn't happened sooner. BA continue to run 36 747's, which per passenger are so much less efficient than A380's, on routes which would have very high capacity for BA. Not to mention the poorer passenger experience, in particular the 18 unrefurbished 747's need replacing asap.
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  • elchriss0

    elchriss0

    21 Jan, 2018 04:39 pm

    lol why bother refurbishing their 747s when their current product is barely any better...especially in J
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  • Joe

    Joe

    21 Jan, 2018 08:17 am

    The A380 is by far the best passenger experience aircraft developed in the history of aviation. Its a no brainer that high density routes and slot restricted routes, at the very least, will always benefit from deploying the A380. It's a win - win for passenger and airline. Long live the A380.
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  • Jason

    cooper81

    21 Jan, 2018 08:49 am

    But cd1982 the 747's whilst more expensive to run are fully owned by BA - so no leasing payments.

    If oil prices hadn't come down a few years ago I think we would have definitely seen BA retiring the 747's quicker.

    But with current oil prices and no repayments these beautiful beasts have found they curry favour again. I commute once a week from LHR-NYC and always try and choose a flight operated by a refurbished 747. I find it far more comfortable even than the newer 787's that serve Newark airport.
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  • downdata

    downdata

    21 Jan, 2018 10:03 am

    Crude prices has gone through the roof in the last 3 months, will be 85 by end of year...
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    asw

  • asw

    asw

    22 Jan, 2018 09:40 am

    I (quickly) looked at the IAG Capital Markets Day slidepack from November 2017. Fuel / Fuel efficiency isnt the highest margin contributor but wil improve as new aircraft delivered. Ahead of fuel are Staff costs and Suppliers.

    Big focus on squeezing suppliers in their 5 year plan & potential extending the life of airframes, or acquiring 2nd hand, ahead of new lease commitments.

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  • Chris McKellar

    krisdude

    21 Jan, 2018 10:47 am

    Its the cost of a new A380 is putting airlines off plus there are airlines moving away from 'Hub n Spoke' model with cheaper fuel efficient twin engine jets that can operate from/to less expensive airports. Norwegian case in point.

    Airbus should be looking at offering ex-leased or second hand A380 refurbish and upgraded them to A380Plus and market them to those airlines who wanted to operate A380's a cheaper lease or purchase price.

    If Airbus did this, then airlines like BA could replace aging B747's with refurbished and upgraded A380's on high density routes like LHR/NYC

    If the auto industry can offer new and refurbished used vehicles, Airbus can with its is A380's.
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  • vhtae

    vhtae

    21 Jan, 2018 03:21 pm

    Can a A380 park at T7 at JFK? As far as I know they don’t have an A380 Gate there..
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  • daschok

    daschok

    21 Jan, 2018 04:28 pm

    BA ruin an amazing aircraft with their J class. before they buy more a380s they have to make the j class competitive with the north american carriers they want to compete with. DL and AC especially
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  • elchriss0

    elchriss0

    21 Jan, 2018 04:41 pm

    that's just sad that even the north american carriers have a better project
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  • elchriss0

    elchriss0

    21 Jan, 2018 04:42 pm

    product* (autocorrect fail)
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  • patrickk

    patrickk

    21 Jan, 2018 05:32 pm

    Elchris0 you have invited a debate as to whether the cramped 777 or 787 (down at the back) is a better product than the A380!!!! I think BA is on the money by expanding the A380 into slot constrained US airports. The Washington A380 is very popular.
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  • John Goss

    Travelwell

    21 Jan, 2018 11:33 pm

    BA J class is a very poor product from booking to Lounge to disenbarking the aircraft. They need A380s just to bring in some sort of Integrity. Regardless of what bean counters say the A380 stirs emotions for the passenger by the experience in a way that 787s or A350s will never ne able to.
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  • P Hanna

    14AspenDrive

    22 Jan, 2018 01:44 am

    Airbus knows its 'Carpe Diem' re amazing A380...expect 'drive away no more to pay zero interest including steak knives' for BA QF and the mega Chinese carriers. A380 is the Phantom and 787/A350 are E Class/5 Series... just no comparison.
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  • les harvey

    cambriamarsh

    22 Jan, 2018 08:30 am

    the deal with EK would be interesting, I wonder if they get a cut of any future A380 sales now that they have effectively given the program credibility and potential buyers confidence the planes will actually be delivered in the agreed timeframe.
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  • Rufus1

    Rufus1

    22 Jan, 2018 08:51 am

    Now someone just has to get Alan Joyce drunk so he orders a few more for Qantas!
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  • Charles

    SteveCF

    22 Jan, 2018 01:03 pm

    I think Qantas could quite likely move away from the A380 to twin engine 777x that opens up more point to point opportunities. Time will tell.
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  • Joe

    Joe

    22 Jan, 2018 08:51 pm

    If the foolish man fitted them out with a proper business, first class cabins and ditched his and his brainiac in-flight service department's delusional concept of 'less is more - drab/ mediocre' current offerings and put in a proper on board lounge in ------like his competition(hello business 101) he might just have something. Why don't EK A380's always go tech like QF's do?.....maybe because they aren't being serviced in Philippines? The food is terrible the ambiance is terrible sharing lavs with economy passengers...seriously Mr Joyce? Just fill em with plonk and they won't know the difference is QF's mantra.
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  • Nick  Sydney 348

    Nick Sydney 2

    22 Jan, 2018 12:19 pm

    Long live the a380
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  • Vik Jay

    MarkivJ

    22 Jan, 2018 02:24 pm

    Newbie here! (Hi everyone! And great job on the website and reporting Chris). A lot keeps being said about this “busy transatlantic traffic” but with so many new point to point flights by legacy carriers (BA’s flights to Austin, New Orleans and Nashville for example, or deltas CDG-Indianapolis, etc) and the smaller USA cities being connected to EU by the Norwegian’s and Icelandic ones, does BA really need another big A380 for the USA?
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  • patrickk

    patrickk

    22 Jan, 2018 06:02 pm

    MarkivJ it is the big cities that generate the traffic. c.f Sydney in Australia or Paris France so for the US it will always be NY, Washington, LA, Chicago DFW and a couple of others
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  • Vik Jay

    MarkivJ

    22 Jan, 2018 06:26 pm

    I was specifically talking about BA and N America. I used to live in dfw and I can tell you that between 4-5 OW flights a day between dfw and lhr, BA’s 789/747 daily to Austin and 2 dailies to IAH, there’s a lot of seats to be had already. JFK will never get the BA A380 as T7 isn’t A380 ready (and no plans part of the planned terminal refurb). I guess the only cities that Could make use of BA’s A380s are additional frequencies to SFO (right now it’s 3x weekly) and BOS. Even ORD is well stocked with AA flights (though BA will fly A380 in the summer).
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  • patrickk

    patrickk

    22 Jan, 2018 06:35 pm

    The issue MarkivJ is the slots at LHR. All of those flights can be upgaged to an A380 and drop one or two daily/weeekly frequencies. That is what the game is about is getting more value out of the limited and expensive slots. AA would come on board if there was revenue sharing.
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  • Vik Jay

    MarkivJ

    22 Jan, 2018 06:27 pm

    Also regarding LA, they fly just 1 daily A380 now.other 2 daily flights are 747 and 789.
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  • patrickk

    patrickk

    22 Jan, 2018 10:23 pm

    MarkivJ a clear case for two A380s and thus saving a LHR slot.
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  • Tadack

    Tadack

    24 Jan, 2018 01:01 am

    Only during winter season while Johannesburg switches from 1 A380 and a 747 to 2 A380 daily. LAX returns to 2 A380 and a 787 in Summer schedule. That is why it is a great aircraft for BA as they can use it for seasonal loads.
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  • Jason

    cooper81

    22 Jan, 2018 10:50 pm

    While oil prices have increased they are NOWHERE near the highs of six or seven years ago when they were at crazy prices and airlines were desperate to retire their gas guzzlers.

    Frequency is king on the LHR - USA routes. And the demand for premium seats verus economy seats is much higher given BA's much stronger corporate presence on those routes (and thanks to the Joint Service Agreement they have with AA).

    Between AA and BA they pretty much offer a shuttle service between LHR and JFK with at least ten flights per day spaced out pretty much every hour. The other US routes that have multiple daily destinations tend to have them also spaced out through the day, typically with a midday-ish and late afternoon departure.

    And the 787 has enabled BA to launch point to point flights to cities that have always had huge amounts of transfer traffic but would not have been viable in its own right on a 777/747 - think Austin, New Orleans, Nashville. This has obviously had a knock on effect to say LHR-IAH or LHR-DFW where most of these passengers would have previously transited.

    It's also worth noting that in terms of First/Business Class seats the refurbished 747's that BA tends to use on the transatlantic routes more or less have the same capacity as the A380. The 747 has 14F (same as A380) and a whopping 86J (the A380 has 97). Yet it only has 145 seats in economy with given the frequencies pretty much fits demand.

    The north American routes it currently uses its A380's on have tended to have a seasonal service (except LAX/SFO). MIA, YVR, BOS, IAD have all had the A380 sporadically and it serves those cities well during periods of high Y class demand (as does QF do to HKG with their A380).

    The other routes where BA uses the 380's (HKG/SIN/JNB) the situation is different. These are routes where capacity is more important than timing/frequency. Flights to these destinations have always been just a couple hours apart of each other in the evening and at some points (HKG and JNB) there were three longhaul 747's/777's departing within a four or five hour window.
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  • Austin Taylor

    Austin

    23 Jan, 2018 12:29 am

    CRIKEY !
    A bit of history here...Apologies if I’m repeating earlier threads. Dunno have the time to read everything.

    The A380’s fuelled the long haul capacity increase. Emirates, who leased their A380’s, etc leached on that tit.

    .So as was always going to happen, Boeing etc decided to better Airbus. Which is where we are now. More efficient long haul . Overfly the old hubs. A cost/fare trade-off between pax, freight and endurance.
    Austin

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  • Michael Sheargold

    Aussie100

    24 Jan, 2018 04:06 pm

    Let's all do what we can to keep the A380 program going - I can't understand with airports at capacity why more airlines aren't into this passenger pleaser!!! Just flew QF7 to Dallas this week - what an awesome aircraft.
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  • Kanishka  Bakmiwewa

    kanishkabakmi

    24 Jan, 2018 06:11 pm

    My personal view is AB380 is not for passenger comfort. window seat is miles away from the window where the passenger cannot even see or look down to see the land or water. it may be good for airlines which carry passengers to Mecca for haj season to transport millions of people during a short time. AB380 is like a stadium of football or a cricket match environment - amount of people roaming in the two aisles with less toilets etc etc.
    But I am really now worried why BA (a wonderful Airline) wants to buy more 380's for which routes where are the 400/500 passengers to come from and AB380 with four engines whether Rolls or GE it burns dollars. Then one more thing with 500 passengers payload comes down. so Cargo will suffer and stand by passengers will be going back home forgetting the holiday.
    passenger comfort is very little and lower than even A330/340/350
    may be only the money having business class or premium Economy passengers sleeping in the upper deck will like..

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  • Kevin Jackson

    Kevin Jackson

    25 Jan, 2018 10:40 am

    I would caution BA buying any A380's from Malaysian.
    The last couple of times I travelled on them, they were so
    beat up and riddled with problems.
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16 Jul, 2019 08:39 am

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