Recently, new information has come to light on British Airways decision to purchase Boeing 777X aircraft as part of its widebody fleet renewal. It turns out that Airbus actually pitched the A380 to British Airways, but was utterly turned down as it would be too expensive to reconfigure the aircraft to hold the new BA Club World seats.
What are the details?
When British Airways was looking for new aircraft for their fleet, to replace their aging 747s and future proof any loss of A380s, they asked both Boeing and Airbus for their best ideas.
Boeing pitched their latest long-haul aircraft, the Boeing 777X. With its long range, large capacity and utilization of technologies that make the Boeing 787 Dreamliner so efficient, it was an excellent choice and a hard one to beat.
Airbus, however, decided to offer something a bit less orthodox.
They offered British Airways a mixed fleet of A380s, some new and some retired from other airlines (particularly Middle Eastern ones like Qatar or Emirates) that they would help source. They would have the space on board to allow BA to be creative with their new Club World. They might have been able to go as far as offer bars and showers to their premium guests.
British Airways eventually decided on 42 777-9s, made up of 18 firm orders and 24 options. These would go on to replace their 747 and 777 fleets.
However, it turns out that the Airbus proposal was not even close to being considered by British Airways.
What does the CEO of British Airways have to say?
As reported on Flight Global, the CEO of British Airways, Alex Cruz, was quite vocal about their decision.
“The proposition that Airbus put forth simply did not even come close to comparison with the Boeing offer. And that was a combination, as rumored in the press, of new aircraft and used aircraft, et cetera,”
The problem, as it would turn out, is the physical renovating and reconfiguring the interior of the aircraft. Even if the A380’s were free, they would be incredibly expensive to retrofit; in the region of $30-50 million per aircraft.
“Imagine that we find a suitable used, relatively new A380 whose owners don’t want anymore – think Malaysian, think Emirates, think Lufthansa,” says Cruz. “Imagine they give it to us at a really reasonable price. Everything breaks down the moment you start thinking about the inside of the aircraft. To put that into a lease rate, all of a sudden it takes the aircraft completely out of the market.”
British Airways has not ruled out acquiring more A380s however, explaining that it comes down to whether or not they can afford it.
“If we were to find some formula in which we could take more, we would. We haven’t been able to do so,” finished Cruz.
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