The A380 Isn’t Big Enough…Yet

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As if the A380 seating layout wasn’t enough for some carriers, Airbus announced they were reconfiguring the plane’s layout to accommodate up to 80 additional seats. The modifications are in response to sales of the superjumbo aircraft which have been far slower than expected.

“We are adapting the aircraft to meet evolving market needs,” said Kiran Rao, executive vice president of strategy for Airbus’s commercial-plane division. Those needs, though, are those of the airlines not the flying public. Flyers in the non-premium cabins may very well feel even more like sardines. Changes to make room for the additional seats include relocating the main staircase. Also in the proposals are eliminating and reducing pilot and crew rest areas.

The A380 Seating Increases Profits, Not Comfort

Airlines are seeking to increase revenues and profitability against the low-cost carriers such as Ryanair and Spirit. Typical A380 buildouts seat about 550 passengers on two decks in three-classes. Some higher-end airlines choose to have fewer seats and instead install amenities such as larger premium-cabin pods, closed compartments, bars, and shower facilities.

Interestingly, the plane can accommodate up to 800 passengers if configured strictly for coach-class seats.

Airbus announced the proposed configurations at the at the 2017 Aircraft Interiors Expo in Hamburg, Germany this week.

About Jim Ogden

Jim is an information technology strategy consultant who has traveled extensively for client projects. Despite having logged many miles for business, it is the personal travel he most values. When traveling for pleasure, Jim prefers to seek out the authentic soul of the places he visits. His favorite travel memories are not of the tourist-friendly areas but rather the places off the beaten-path. As an expat and foodie, Jim brings a perspective of writing based on maximizing the experience of traveling.

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  1. The A380 is in some ways a great aircraft to fly (smooth ride and very quiet, and some carriers have done great things with the premium cabins), but the real problem isn’t that it’s not big enough but that it’s (already) far too big. Airbus bet that airlines would want an even larger jumbo than the 747 for congested airports like LHR; instead most preferred smaller aircraft (like the 787 and A350) that would fly longer distances point-to-point. in many cases bypassing those congested airports altogether. It’s obvious which bet was the right one. Now they’re trying to put lipstick on a pig, if you will, but no amount of additional capacity squeezed out of the A380 is going to make it more attractive to a significant number of carriers. The plane’s days (at least in production) are numbered.

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