When the A380 performed its maiden flight 10 years ago this month, it was clear that Airbus was once again shaping the future of air transportation.
A decade later, the company’s vision and passion for aviation are keeping the A380 at the forefront – providing a very large jetliner that is more than ever meeting passengers’ changing expectations and matching the evolving trends in air traffic, while generating significant revenue for its operators.
This is best illustrated by airlines’ current use of the A380 on nearly 100 routes to some 45 destinations, linking major airports, accommodating growing traffic on intense regional segments, connecting hubs to key city destinations and serving busy domestic flights. On certain routes, A380s are operated on multiple frequencies – up to seven per day.
The A380’s unrivalled interior volume enables operators to choose the cabin configuration that meets the needs of their specific routes and passenger preferences.
As an example, many airlines are incorporating a Premium Economy cabin, adding higher-revenue economy class seating while maintaining equivalent overall passenger count totals. As a result, airlines are able to boost the average passenger yield and generate approximately $13 million in additional revenue annually for each of their A380s, according to Frank Vermeire, the Head of A380 Marketing at Airbus.
Airbus also is offering an 11-abreast Budget Economy class layout, which retains Airbus’ comfort standard with 18-inch-wide seats.
“But we aren’t stopping here, as we have some new cabin innovations that allow even more optimisation of the cabin space, thereby allowing us to add additional business and premium economy seats,” Vermeire added. “The new higher seat count configuration, together with the increase in yield, will generate up to $20 million each year in additional revenues per A380.”
The A380’s cabin enables further enhancements of first and business class offerings as well, including private three-room suites for the most discerning travellers, while higher density arrangements for the A380 also are possible – with one airline announcing a two-class 600-seat configuration.
In developing the A380, teams at Airbus set their sights high from the design and technology point of view, introducing innovations literally from nose to tail. This includes the Runway Overrun Prevention System (ROPS) for enhanced safety during landing, and the AFDX® backbone network technology for on-board data exchange – both of which are used on the A350 XWB, and have become recognised industry benchmarks.
Airbus began its “Love at First Flight” marketing outreach in 2011, capturing passengers’ emotions after the initial A380 experience, a sentiment which keeps them coming back to their aircraft of choice.
Sales of the A380 now total 317 from 18 customers – representing a 90 per cent share of the very large aircraft market. More than 150 A380s currently are flown by 13 operators, carrying approximately two million passengers every month. Somewhere in the world, an A380 “shares the love” by taking off or landing every four minutes.