The Boeing 777X vs The Airbus A380 – What Plane Wins?

With the Boeing 777X almost ready to take to the skies, many are in anticipation on how airlines will use this aircraft.

Take Emirates for example, they have 149 Boeing 777 variants in use on their long haul operations, using the vast capacity as part of their strategy to bring as many passengers as possible on the longest routes in the world. When the new 777X version was announced, they were quick to place 120 orders for the latest Boeing offering (35 777-8 and 115 777-9).

However… Emirates has quite a number of other aircraft in their fleet, specifically the Airbus A380, the biggest plane in the sky. If capacity is the main strategy of Emirates, then they have it in excess with 109 A380s (and 53 orders on the way) in their fleet.

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So for an airline like Emirates, what is better? The A380 or the newer 777X?

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Boeing 777x
The 777-9 under construction on the Boeing factory floor.

How will we compare the two aircraft?

We will be matching each aircraft up against each other and compare them on a variety of different factors, such as seating, range, fuel, cargo etc. We will take on the perspective of an airline, like Emirates, and look at the numbers. Whilst both aircraft might have different passenger experiences (such as more room on a A380 or better pressurization on a 777X) we want to stick to what makes more money for the airline.

Unlike in previous comparisons (see at the end of the article for the full list), we will not just ignore another variant of the same plane. As both versions of the 777X have their merits, we should compare them directly to the A380 as if the airline was making a choice between, not two aircraft, but three.

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Also, there are technically two additional variants, the 777-10 and the A380plus. But as both don’t really exist (although very well might one day!) we won’t factor them in the discussion.

Airbus A380-800 Cutaway Poster

Let’s begin.

Boeing 777X vs Airbus A380

Boeing Airbus
Model 777-8 777-9 A380
Cockpit crew Two Two
Seating, 2-class 365 414 575 Typical, 853 Max
Seating, 3-class 349 (8F + 49J + 292Y) 555 (22F + 96J + 437Y)
Cargo capacity 8,131 cu ft (230.2 m3) 175.2 m3 (6,190 cu ft)
Length 229 ft 0 in (69.8 m) 251 ft 9 in (76.7 m) 72.72 m (238 ft 7 in)
Wingspan 235 ft 5 in (71.8 m), 212 ft 9 in (64.8 m) folded 79.75 m (261 ft 8 in)
Wing area 5,025 sq ft (466.8 m2) area, AR 11.04 845 m2 (9,100 sq ft), AR 7.53
Height 64 ft 0 in (19.5 m) 64 ft 7 in (19.7 m) 24.09 m (79 ft 0 in)
Width, exterior 20 ft 4 in (6.20 m) 6.50 m (21 ft 4 in)
Width, cabin 19.6 ft (5.96 m) 5.80 m (19 ft 0 in)
MTOW 775,000 lb (351,534 kg) 575 t (1,268,000 lb)
Max. Payload 162,000 lb (73,500 kg) 84 t (185,000 lb)
OEW 400,000 lb (181,400 kg) 277 t (611,000 lb)
Fuel capacity 52,300 US gal (197,977 L) 85,472 US gal / 323,546 litres
Range 8,690 nmi / 16,090 km 7,525 nmi / 13,940 km 14,800 km / 8,000 nmi
Engine General Electric GE9X-105B1A GP7200 / Trent 900
Thrust (×2) 105,000 lbf (470 kN) 332.44–356.81 kN (74,740–80,210 lbf)

Seating

This first challange is a bit of a no brainer. Whilst the Boeing does very well with 414 seats on board, the Airbus dominates with over 500 seats. Even looking at a 3 class variation, the A380 just has way more room. This is due to the plane being double decked, fitting in roughly twice the space on board.

777-9 777x
There are currently two designs for the Boeing 777-9, a two-class layout and a three-class layout.

This extra space goes to comforts like showers, bars and other entertaining spaces that are rare on other aircraft.

ANA A380 Seatmap. Notice all the additional areas onboard.

Winner: A380

Cargo

Oddly, one of the larger profit drivers for airlines is cargo. And the Airbus actually fails in this regard. As you will see below, the plane requires a lot of fuel and as such, it has had to sacrifice cargo space for those big tanks. The 777X, on the other hand, has plenty of room for those mail parcels and thus is better. Winner: 777X

Max Payload

But swapping back to raw power is the A380. With four engines on board, this plane has a crazy amount of thrust to get itself airborne. Its max payload is a good 20,000 lb more than the 777X and whilst it doesn’t appear to have more room to actually store cargo, it can technically carry more of it (Passengers or goods). Winner: A380

Farnborough, United Kingdom – July 16, 2016: An Airbus A380 in flight

Fuel Capacity

It seems what the A380 lacks in cargo capacity, it makes up for in fuel capacity. With a massive 30,000 more US gals than the 777X series, Airbus crushes the competition. Winner: A380

Wait, what about fuel efficiency?

First, let’s talk about the elephant in the room. The A380 has 4 engines and the 777X only has two. Logically, more engines, more fuel.

But it gets a little more complicated when we add in the weight of the aircraft, what materials it is made out of, and general design principles to be as aerodynamic as possible. Built off the back of the famously fuel-efficient Boeing 787, the 777X reaps all the hard work.

Fuel
This graph keeps on giving. 777X would be near the 787 on this graph as it uses much of the same technology.

So whilst the A380 might have way more fuel onboard, it needs it because the plane is nowhere near as efficient as the 777X, costing the operator far more money in the long run. Winner: 777X

Range

So far the 777X has not flown on any routes yet, so it’s hard to say what it’s the actually useful range for the aircraft. The A380 however, has proven itself, flying from Dubai to Auckland on the world’s fourth longest route.

This is also where the two variants of the 777X come into play. The 777-8 has a range of 8,690 nmi, beating out the Airbus A380’s range of 8,000 nmi. But the 777-8 does not have the capacity as large as the A380, and thus might not be as useful. Speaking of useful, are there any routes where the 777-9 would not be used in lieu of the longer range of the A380 (a range of only 500 nm)? Unlikely.

As it stands, on range numbers, the 777X wins, but at a cost of capacity. Winner: 777X

What about cost?

Before we decide on which of these two aircraft we need to discuss the price to buy one of these planes:

  • 777-8: 394.9 million USD.
  • 777-9: 425.8 million USD.
  • A380: 445.6 million USD

Because so few orders are being made for the A380 (and one of the main reasons why it will soon be discontinued), it’s costs are higher. As so many orders are being placed for the 777X series, costs can be spread over the production line (economies of scale).

Which plane is best?

It is far easier to fill up a smaller plane and fly it frequently. than hoping you can fill a giant plane and fly it less frequency. The typical A380 needs to have plenty of premium paying customers to make a profit, whilst a 777X needs less.

Plus, the A380 can’t fly everywhere. A perfect example is Dubai to Cape Town, South Africa. If Emirates flew an A380 there, it would have to stop at Johannesburg and an additional plane would fly the extra distance to the cape. Whilst by using a 777X, it can fly directly to Cape Town with no additional aircraft required. This extra cost would easily beat any profit made from the extra passengers on an A380.

777X
The Boeing 777X simply is a better aircraft for this modern world.

Factoring in fuel efficiency, range, cargo capacity and cost to buy, the 777X simply is a better deal for airlines.

Winner: 777X

What next?

If you have enjoyed this article, be sure to check out our other comparisons here:

Thanks for reading and be sure to let us know if we missed anything in the comments.

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Jeff D

What a nonsensical comparison … these are two distinctly aircraft in two distinctly categories. Apples to oranges ….

Francois

Right said Fred…

Brian Johns

Your comparison seems to have a rather large omission – passenger preferences. I don’t know anyone who flies long haul regularly who doesn’t rate the A380 head and shoulders above the 777 ER. A case in point.Last month we flew London-Sydney-London on Emirates. Three legs were on the peerless A380 and one (Sydney-Dubai) on the 777-ER. The A380 experience was perfect. Smooth, quiet and with the bar at the back great for moving around. We arrived fresh and alert (ok it was Business Class!) The 14 hour return by 777 was a very poor experience. Small Business Class section ,… Read more »

Peter Smales

Spot on Brian. I am a regular A380 traveller (at least 30 flights on that type alone per annum, a third of them on the Dubai-East Coast Australia-Dubai 14-hour non-stops). I have flown all three classes (First Class on upgrades – never at my own expense I have to concede) on these legs. I have my own business so will normally always fly Economy. Emirates’ A380 Economy is very bearable, far more so than can be said for the B777 and A330 on the same legs. My travel agent has been in her business for 40 years. She tells me… Read more »

csmede

“As so many orders are being placed for the 777X series, costs can be spread over the production line (economies of scale)”

Really? Has anyone actually googled the # of orders for the 777X?
Hint: 326. That’s it. The A380 started with something like 340 orders.
Oh, and just like the A380, the vast majority of orders for the 777X comes from the 3 Middle-Eastern airlines.
Also, take this: 30 orders since 2014. Last order in June 2017. Ouch!
Now you understand why Airbus decided against the A350-1100 or A350-2000 or whatever they were going to call it?

Jim

Interesting article. However, I believe the cabin width is incorrect. You state the cabin width of the A380 at 5.80 meters and the 777X at 5.96 meters.

Gabor

I would have added passenger comfort (something the airline industry tends to ignore nowadays) to the analysis and there Airbus beats Boeing big time with A380 and A350. In both aircraft you can HEAR people chatting during takeoff. From this perspective the B787 is a big disappointment. Its cabin is as noisy as an old B767.
On the other hand the era of quad jets is gone, this is not a question anymore as fuel efficiency is getting more and more important.

AQ

You can’t compare these two aircrafts! Emirates use the 777Xs to replace the older 300Ers. 777X main competitor is A350. If you want to compare the A380 with something, it would be the 747-8.
A quick reminder to everyone: 777X arrival has NOTHING to do with A380s replacement. New A380s to be delivered from 2020s will replace the old ones!

DUNCAN

GBP200 million per landing slot. Yep makes sense to increase the frequency. I can make the money up in no time.

DUNCAN SPENCE

And please don’t bring up the Sonic Cruiser comparison, since that was the initial response from Boeing to the A380.

paul flight

a few observations: Emirates have four seating versions of their A380. 20 are in a two class layout with 615 seats. The width of the passenger cabin is 21ft 6ins. It is also possible to go to 11 abreast seating and still have an 18 wide seat. The passenger experience on the A380 is way above the 777 and brings additional revenue and prestige that other airlines and aircraft cannot match. The purchase price Emirates pay is not much greater than their 777s The operational costs such as staffing, slick route network planning etc is a far bigger factor in… Read more »

Dwight Looi

Let me put it VERY SIMPLY for you. The 777-9 is an empirically more efficient airplane than the A380. Here are the numbers. The A380 has a Maximum Take-off Weight (MTOW) of 575 tons, of which up to 14.6% (84 tons) can be payload and 46.0% (265 tons) can be fuel. The A380 also needs a ton of thrust to get every 3.94 tons of its MTOW into the air. The 777-9 has a MTOW of 352 tons, of which up to 20.9% (73.5 tons) can be payload and 46.0% (162 tons) can be fuel. It only uses a ton… Read more »

John Michaels

There is much talk about the many causes of Global Warming but nobody seems to be
concerned about these thousands of flying monsters polluting the skies!!
There really must come a time to ask: ( IS YOUR TRIP REALLY NECESSARY) now that electronic communication is so simple?

Air-journal blog

The 777x is better than the a380 and 747
but i think a350-1000 is more efficient again than the 777-9.
I comparate them on my website

Jonathan Winfield

Thanks for the article – just one thing, though – I see the flying distance from Dubai to Cape Town is a little under 5000 miles, yet you mentioned that an A380 cannot make the journey without refuelling. Are you sure about that?

Ifeanyi Frank Enekwa

Generally, all that I am able to deduce from this huzzle and rally between Airbus and Boeing to manufacture new brands of Airbus A350 and forthcoming Boeing 777x is just a huzzle to drive the aeroplane fashioning trend and ideological competition. Correct me if am wrong, Boeing sampled her first B777 at the 1996 Farnborough Airshow. This airplane won the glory of that day because it can seat and carry more than 330 persons on air and practically fly on one of it’s electro mechanically powered twin engine for five hours or more then switch on to the next engine… Read more »

Jorge Magalhaes

Nothing can be compared with Airbus A380….just years ahead. fly on it and compare it with others..I made it a couple of times!