Tearful Goodbye To The Airbus A380 [Roundup]

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About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Gary, your link re: Missed Connection makes absolutely no sense to me. Unless I was in dating mode. Which I am not. Seems more like a hook-up site than aviation info site about missed connections.


    Am I missing something?

  2. Shed no tears for the A380.

    In her song “U + Ur Hand,” Pink sang the line, “It was over before it began.” And, so it was with the A380. Program management made three strategic decisions during its design phase that doomed it.

    – Airlines will accentuate hub versus point-to-point operations. As such, aircraft must have much larger passenger capacity — say, 600. But, even if Airbus was right about hubs, what does an airline do with seasonal effects? That is, in winter, we only have a 300 passenger count. Airbus misses the concept of modularity — we’ll have two flights of 300 in high season and one flight of 300 in low season (and save gas). Talk to any airline person involved with the acquisition of aircraft and ask them what the single most important metric is. Gas.

    – As air travel increases, this massive aircraft will need to carry 800 passengers, then 1000 passengers, then 1200 passengers. So, to save engineering costs, we’ll design a single under-carriage for all variants of our massive aircraft. Of course, that mean weight. And, for the first (and only) variant, that extra weight translated into higher gas consumption. Oops — there we go again.

    – The third nail in the coffin were the engines. Improvement in aircraft engine fuel efficiency tends to be a step function as opposed to a slope. And, the steps tend to occur every X number of years. Given the A380’s original production timeline, the next step in fuel efficiency was to be years after the aircraft would enter service. But, then, there were delays and delays and delays. And, of course, management did see what was happening but it was committed to the EU engine maker. By the time the A380 actually entered service, the next generation of engines (GEnx and Trent 1000) was ALREADY in service. Gas comes up yet a third time.

    Purportedly, when Airbus management saw the new engine’s numbers — which was prior to the first A380 even entering service — they knew the A380 was doomed. And, purportedly, when Airbus management saw the B787’s numbers as early as 2012, AT THAT TIME, they estimated that the entire program would lose over $20 billion over its lifetime.

  3. Wow! Sounds like Boeing and Airbus both lost $20 billion on the 787/A380 programs.

    Amazing these companies are still in business.

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