The Value Of Used Airbus A380 Is Falling Fast

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The value of used Airbus A380s continues to tumble as airlines move away from four-engine aircraft in favor of smaller more fuel-efficient planes.

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - 2019/09/09: An A380 Emirates Airline plane approaching London Heathrow Terminal 3 airport. (Photo by Dinendra Haria/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
When Emirates canceled its order it was the end of the A380. Photo: Getty

In February of 2019, Airbus realized that the demand for the superjumbo was over after the aircraft’s biggest customer Emirates decided to cancel an order for 39 planes. Instead of the A380 Emirates decided that it would be better served by replacing the 615 seat aircraft with 40 A330-900s and 30 A350-900s.

With no other airlines interested in ordering the mammoth jet, and those that already had bought them looking to retire their fleet, the end of the world’s largest aircraft was written on the wall for all to see.

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Airlines no longer want the A380

Why the major airlines are not interested in the A380 is understandable, yet you would think that there would be a secondary market in which perhaps the aircraft could thrive.

The first two options that come to mind are tour operators and charter companies. The aircraft is ideally suited to transporting pilgrims to Mecca and would make excellent military transport.

Where we did see the aircraft come into its own was during the Thomas Cook collapse. In the aftermath, the British government used a chartered HiFly A380 to bring stranded holidaymakers home from the Canary Islands.

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A HiFly A380 brought stranded Thomas Cook customers back from Gran Canaria. Photo: Eric Salard via Flickr

Despite its intrinsic value as a large transporter of people, the bottom line is that it is just too expensive to operate, which is why a lack of demand is now seeing the price of second-hand aircraft tumble.

The last published price for a new A380 is $445 million, but that is way off the real valuation according to aviation experts.

Valerie Bershova a valuations analyst at Ascend by Cirium says that the price of a half-life A380 built, in 2005 is $77 million, and that an aircraft built last year is $276 million. Both of these figures were written before the coronavirus ravaged the airline industry, so we can assume that a used A380 is now worth even less than the analyst’s valuation.

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As for spare parts,  Bershova claims that a couple of early built aircraft recently brought in $80 million per plane, but by 2023 she can see that figure dropping to just $35 million.

Boeing made the right choice

Back in the 1990s when both Boeing and Airbus were staring into their crystal balls, the Boeing 747 was the “Queen of the Skies”. It seemed logical to Airbus that an even bigger aircraft would prove just as popular.

Looking at projected passenger numbers and a limited amount of slots at some of the world’s busiest airports added to the European planemaker’s decision to go big. Boeing, however, even knowing that passenger numbers would increase dramatically, decided that the future was longer-range twin-engine aircraft.

In the end, Boeing has been proved right, with airlines all looking at smaller twin-engine planes that are cheaper to operate and easier to fill. Plus, newer jets like the Boeing 777 and Boeing 787 could fly to many destinations around the world and not just the big airports that had the facilities to handle the A380.

In the end, even Airbus saw the light and came up with the A350 a much more efficient and practical aircraft for airlines to operate.

Could the A380 be reconfigured as a freighter?

With the Boeing 747-400, 84 of the aircraft were converted to be used as cargo carriers simply by installing a large freight door. For the A380 this is not an option as the planes double-decker design does not make a conversion practical.

Today any airline considering keeping the A380 in its fleet must deal with its running costs which are somewhere between $26,000 and $29,000 per hour to operate, which while high, is not bad if you are flying a fully loaded plane. A Boeing 777, on the other hand, costs somewhere around $7,400 per hour and does not have the airport handling issues that the A380 has.

Ok, so let say you want to operate the A380 on a busy route that you know you can fill seats on. Air France had this dilemma with its ten A380s. The trouble was all of them needed their business class offerings upgrading to compete with rival airlines.

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Air France has decided to retire its ten A380s. Photo: Laurent ERRERA Wikipedia Commons

When the French national flag carrier crunched the numbers they realized that they were looking at spending around $45 million per plane. Faced with such a bill and given the operating costs, in the end, Air France decided that they would be better off just retiring the aircraft.

The A380 will always remain a firm favorite with passengers but sadly the market for used aircraft will continue to decline as airlines look to the future.

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JFP

Interesting that a story is posted on Boeing’s sales equivalent, the 377…

The A380 was too big, too late, and too thirsty

Henning

I guess that the A350-900 and the 787-10 will be the mainstream large aircraft and the 787-9/A330neo-900 in the class under in the future. The A350-1000 will be in small numbers for those who need the capacity and range. The 777x will probably Take over the role and meet the same fate as the A380, a large Behemoth that only very few want.

Leifinseoul

Could you explain how you came up with the figure that an A380 costs ~4x that of a 777 per hour of operation? It seems wildly excessive.

leifinseoul

Could you explain how you came up with the figure of that an A380 costs ~4x that of a 777 per hour of operation? It seems wildly excessive.

Gerald Brady

I can understand why the airlines are dropping the A380 but as a passenger it saddens me. I always select an A380 to fly on when I have the choice for the comfort, the space (even in economy) and the quiet smooth ride. I will miss them when they’re gone.

Jazi Zilber

can someone explain of any newer aircraft is as comfortable as the A380?

and if not, why isn’t it possible to replicate?

thanks 🙂

Willem

Thirsty aircraft just do not cut the cake. Look at the Concord. Awesome aircraft but just not worth it at the end. Sometimes smaller is better in this case more efficient. Russians got it right with the Antonov as a cargo plane. It is the only market where a big plane comes in handy. Airbus must turn their focus on cargo planes with these huge aircraft they want to build. I know it is impossible with the A380 but you have the concept now perfect it. Boeing 777 was and will always be a favorite amongst passenger planes

Wessel

If I can make a sugestion for the A380 the best is to convert it to suites which only tge very rich can afford. To fly in high class style.

Flyer

The Airbus A380 was a beautiful Plane. I don't understand why the A380 gets grounded. It's really sad to read the Articles about the A380 grounding.

Andy

Most airlines only have about 10 A380s, and can probably fly them as flagships once conditions improve. What Emirates will do with 150 when they have to compete with 787-10s and A321XLRs is a good question.

Jake Kyvuto

Andy
Most airlines only have about 10 A380s, and can probably fly them as flagships once conditions improve. What Emirates will do with 150 when they have to compete with 787-10s and A321XLRs is a good question.

Join them up on top of each other and Dubai has another tallest building flying in the desert. They love mega things. An A380 is the height of 7 floors, multiply by 150 its 1050 floors

Jake Kyvuto

What Emirates will do with 150 when they have to compete with 787-10s and A321XLRs is a good question.

Join them up on top of each other and Dubai has another tallest building flying in the desert. They love mega things. An A380 is the height of 7 floors, multiply by 150 its 1050 floors

Paul Proctor

Not so sure it would make an “excellent” military transport. Lots of personnel, yes. Loading military equipment and supplies— not so much. Plus a huge, high- value target.

Sivas Pandya

Why not convert A-380 into 3 engine aircraft. Still its impressive size is adorable by everyone. And removing one engine can definately bring down the operating costs.

Wyatt

I think it is interesting that a possible use for this aircraft would be transporting pilgrims. It is a humble goal, and I hope to see the aircraft being used in this role. Moving on, I find it interesting that you said they used a HiFly A-380 in the fallout of the Thomas Cook collapse. Unless they used more than one A-380, then they used a chartered Malaysian Airlines A-380 for the flights. Correct me if I’m wrong, though.

Steve

British airways have 12 a380s and I think they are flying all of them .as far as I no.maybe ba are looking forward to after the virus has gone and people are flying again.

Toni Petz

Boeing made there right decision here? Maybe yes, but they sure s*****d up on every other level imaginable!!