June 06, 2013
The competing—and once fiercely debated—Airbus hub-centric and Boeing point-to-point views of the commercial air travel market have created a battle that is now largely “theoretical” given some of the market success of the A380 to date, says Airbus President and CEO Fabrice Bregier.
“When a customer operates an A380 they gain market share,” even in markets where Airbus never guessed the big aircraft would operate, he says. “And the competitors can notice it.”
With hub depeaking and network changes worldwide, much of the large-volume hub-to-hub traffic foreseen a decade ago that helped justify the A380’s launch has yet to materialize. But Bregier, briefing reporters earlier this week at Airbus’s Toulouse aircraft-delivery center, argues that while neither of the two airframers’ competing visions may have proved wholly accurate, airline success stories and the size of the backlogs make the case that the European consortium made the right call years ago.
“The majority of the growth of Emirates [Airline] comes from the introduction into service of the A380,” he asserted. “Right now Emirates would like to have more aircraft, delivered faster,” as would other operators.
Large aircraft sales for both Airbus and Boeing have been sluggish, and the A380—in service now for more than five years—has yet to break even, with 101 aircraft flying and 160 on the books awaiting delivery.
“I would prefer to have 500 or 600,” Bregier said. “But how many 747-8 [does] Boeing [have] in its backlog, you know? Check with them. I don’t think it’s close to 160.”
The Aviation Week Intelligence Network (AWIN) Fleets database shows the Boeing 747-8 backlog at 58, with 38 in service, but the aircraft was also only introduced in 2011 and has been in service for less than two years.
Bregier said Airbus’s objective is to deliver 25-30 A380s each year, adding that the company will deliver 25 this year and “probably a little higher next year.”
In contrast to the A320 line—with slots sold through 2020—“we still have a few slots, less than [can be counted] on one hand” in 2015 for the A380.