Would US Domestic Airbus A380 Flights Be Feasible?

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The A380 is one of the most interesting commercial aircraft ever produced. Although it was not a huge success (depending on who you ask, that is), the aircraft never really found a place in the United States. American carriers turned away from large, four-engine aircraft in favor of fuel-efficient twinjets. But, would A380 domestic flights be feasible?

Airbus A380
The A380 is an iconic aircraft, but noticeably absent from the fleet of United States carriers. Photo: Airbus

Coast-to-coast travel

The A380 would only work on high-demand routes. One of the most prominent examples would be between New York and Los Angeles or San Francisco. However, these markets are already pretty saturated with plenty of carriers offering convenient levels of frequency.

However, several carriers do operate widebodies on this route. These include 767s and 787-10s. Compared to these, the A380 would have been a huge capacity upgrade that could easily cover the equivalent of two daily frequencies.

A380
The A380 is known for high capacity and a relatively spacious cabin. Photo: Airbus

Outside the coast to coast route, however, it just does not make sense for the A380 to fly domestic US routes.

Why did U.S. carriers avoid the A380?

The A380 is just too big. Airlines have found that capacity is not necessarily better when frequency is an option. Even then, such a large aircraft can come with plenty of operational constraints since some airports simply do not have the upgraded infrastructure to handle this size aircraft. It is for this reason that some airports are off-limits for Emirates – the world’s largest A380 operator.

Emirates cannot use the A380 at every airport. Photo: Airbus

Wet-lease operators

If the A380 were to fly for a United States carrier, it would likely be a leased plane from an operator like HiFly.

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HiFly operates A380 on behalf of other carriers. Photo: HiFly

If an airline were to wet-lease an A380, it would probably be due to unavailable aircraft within its own fleet. Aircraft groundings, in particular, can lead to an airline leasing this aircraft from HiFly. Furthermore, the airline itself would not have to worry about training crew to operate these flights which makes HiFly’s leasing options fairly attractive. That being said, most U.S. airlines do not have to face the same challenges as other HiFly customers, such as Norwegian.

A380
The A380 would likely only fly a domestic route as part of a wet-lease agreement. Photo: Airbus

Overall

The A380 was never feasible for United States domestic operations. In fact, around the world, there are very few routes where such a large aircraft would work. The most likely way a United States carrier would fly the A380 would be amid a capacity crunch, which seems unlikely.

Do you think the A380 could have worked on domestic U.S. flights? Let us know in the comments!

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