Saturday, March 11, 2006


Airbus A380: Will There Be One That Actually Seats 900?

There are rumors that some airline is preparing to cram 900 seats into the Airbus A380. But this seems to be contradicted by the fact that the A380 is only being currently tested with 876. What this means is that approvals will only be granted for that number and nothing more.

It is interesting how everybody is talking about airlines providing extra room and cocktail lounges in this giant bird. More so because of large orders for the A380 from airlines like Emirates who are really not an economy airline.

All this totally ignores the reality of economics. The airline industry is not doing particularly well at the moment and apart from the effects of 9/11, the truth is that many airlines would sell a lot more seats at lower prices. Imagine what would happen to their bottom line if they can do this at a profit.

Then there is the totally ignored fact that the World Wide Web has helped to dramatically fuel an increase demand for world travel. One of the huge remaining obstacles is the cost. One just needs to take a look at what is happening in India (incidentally a very "wired" nation) where air travel has just gone through the roof, totally ignoring obstacles like the after effects of 9/11.

There is no doubt on the mind of this writer that the A380 will mark a dramatic change in world air travel by drastically bringing down the unit cost of air travel and thus tapping into a huge growing and probably insatiable demand, in years to come. We are knocking on the door of super-economy air travel.

In other words Airbus was right and Boeing was wrong. If this proves to be true, it could be an extremely expensive mistake for a company that virtually invented commercial airline manufacturing.

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