Airbus Still Believes In A Second Hand A380 Market

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**Update: 17/11/19 @ 17:45 UTC – Comments received from Airbus. Details below**

The Dubai Air Show kicks off today and scheduled to make an appearance at the event are two Airbus superjumbos. That’s right, two Airbus A380s of Etihad and Emirates will be present, as Airbus works to develop a second-hand market for the jet. In fact, Airbus has already assisted lease companies in finding homes for planes returned by operators. In the years to come, it may find itself busy doing more of the same.

Airbus A380, Plane Spotting, Best Airports
The first A380 was delivered in 2007. Image by adueck from Pixabay

Largely due to Emirates dropping their interest in the aircraft, Airbus will discontinue A380 production in 2021. In fact, the success and longevity of the program has largely been due to Emirates. The airline operates the world’s largest fleet of the type, in addition to the world’s largest fleet of B777-300ER aircraft.

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The second-hand market

Speaking with Aviation News, Airbus’ A380 business development leader, Catherine Bras, said the following:

“From the beginning we knew it would be good for us to help build a market for second-hand aircraft. We think this is a great opportunity to show what the aircraft can do. There may be some airlines that were hesitant to commit long-term who can now try out an A380 and see what it can do for them. This could help create new routes and expand the market base.”

In fact, Portuguese wet-lease company Hi Fly is the first operator of a second hand Airbus A380. With the A380 program still relatively young (the first aircraft entering service 12 years ago) there is still much value in these jets operating in the right conditions with the right level of demand.

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In speaking with Forbes, Hi Fly President and CEO Paulo Mirpuri said this in February:

“The second [A380] will be a lot easier, so we will be driven by market demand. And we will need to have one full year of operation before we decide about the next one, and the third one, and the fourth one,”

Emirates A380
Emirates is the world’s largest operator of the Airbus A380. Photo: Needpix

The A380 is still relevant

In an October publication Airbus said:

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“The A380 will continue flying, with Airbus support, for decades to come…The A380 with its unique capacity offers an unbeatable economic value proposition to operators on dense routes (ex. Hajj ops), especially out of congested airports.”

There’s no doubt about it: the A380 maximizes profit on high-demand routes where there is a scarcity of slots. You’ll only see this at the world’s busiest airports – London Heathrow is one prime example.

In fact, British Airways uses its A380s out of Heathrow for 10 different locations, including five U.S cities. Interestingly, IAG Chief Executive Willie Walsh had once hinted that the second hand A380 market could be an option to expand operations. This was at a time when he was in charge of British Airways only. Unfortunately, at a cost of US$30-50 million, his successor Alex Cruz sees the cost of refurbishment as too high. This is according to an article by CNBC.
The Etihad A380 features “The Residence”. The only three-room suite on a commercial aircraft. Photo: Etihad

An Airbus representative eventually got back to us and wanted to highlight the following points:

  • Airbus is fully engaged in A380 cabin refurbishing with several of our customers who are re investing millions euros in their planes to upgrade their cabin and passenger comfort. ( Qantas, SIA )
  • Airbus supports customers interested in second hand A380s and one aircraft is already operated by the Wet lease Company HiFly.
  • We support our 15 A380 operators in their daily operations.
  •  A380s can be leased / acquired at attractive rates offering great opportunities for new entrants with new business models. 

Conclusion

While Airbus gains a lot more from the production and sale of its newer planes, it can certainly benefit from providing service and support in the second hand A380 market.

What airlines would you like to see take a second hand A380 as an addition to its fleet? Let us know by leaving a comment!

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