The Long Goodbye for Airbus A380

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Belle
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The Long Goodbye for Airbus A380

Post by Belle » Fri Feb 15, 2019 12:30 am

It's very sad to see this great aircraft will not be produced beyond 2021 when the last of its 17 orders are completed, 14 of them for Emirates. Qantas recently cancelled their orders. We have travelled to Europe 3 times on this magnificent aircraft with Emirates; twice in Business and once in Economy - where even in that section at the front of the plane downstairs there was a roomy feel and a bulkhead area where you could comfortably exercise to ward off DVT. They will be flying for approximately 30 more years but Airbus will, of course, have to lay off huge numbers of staff when production ceases. I'm sure Boeing is optimistic because it means their more fuel-efficient, smaller dual engine aircraft (eg. the Dreamliner, 787) will be snapped up for more direct routes. We travelled recently for the first time on the 787 and in their Business section it was extremely quiet and with vast amounts of room. However, I'm told the Economy section is cramped and uncomfortable. Staff on that 787 said they didn't like the aircraft, whereas Airbus A380 staff have mostly praised that airplane - according to quite a few media reports in recent days.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n7aUjP45EpM

All of this demonstrates the high-stakes gamble of aircraft production because the market can change so very quickly and billions of dollars in investment are put in jeopardy.

The Emirates business model is based upon the super-hub of Dubai where long haul flights drop passengers before being shuttled (on generally smaller aircraft) to Europe and elsewhere. It's an unpleasant experience being at that airport - frightening even - because it's so tremendously big and crowded and there are rip-off merchants everywhere. Emirates are going to be hoping their business model succeeds into the future!!

My husband and I are such airline tragics that we book into the airport hotel the night before we fly anywhere, right up on a top floor, and we watch the runway activity for hours!!

John F
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Re: The Long Goodbye for Airbus A380

Post by John F » Fri Feb 15, 2019 1:31 am

There was a documentary about the A380 on the Smithsonian cable TV channel and it's certainly an impressive and comfortable-looking machine. But I wonder whether there ever really was a big market for it. For one thing, the biggest Boeing 747 can carry as many passengers or more, perhaps not as comfortably but just as fast. I've never flown in a 787 but it appears that Boeing once again got it right about the market - according to Wikipedia, it's had orders for 1,403 aircraft from 70 customers.

So maybe the A380 was a white elephant from the beginning, like the Concorde. It could take the risk because, among other reasons, about 25% of its stock is owned or controlled by the governments of France, Germany, and Spain, and another 3% is owned by the ruler of the Dubai Emirate, which has been the biggest customer for the A380.
John Francis

Belle
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Re: The Long Goodbye for Airbus A380

Post by Belle » Fri Feb 15, 2019 4:09 am

The A380 has a very luxurious First Class section (which I haven't used), an extensive Business section and enlarged economy. I've travelled on one when there were 520 people on board. The 747 had only a small Business section and I'm unsure whether it had First - probably yes, at the front downstairs. I've flown upstairs on the 747 and it's a weird experience, with the captain and co-pilot and not many passengers; it felt like you were in a much smaller plane but you looked down about 2 storeys onto the tarmac and, of course, that spiral staircase led upstairs, light years away from the other passengers.

The seats of the type found in the 747 were replaced in Business and First on many of the airlines buying the A380 with 'pods' which isolated you from the rest of the passengers - designed to allow people to work quietly. It had its own bar, flatbed and huge storage areas, but my husband was behind me in a herringbone configuration and we couldn't get to talk. You could manage this in the middle seats or if you wanted to congregate in the bar area down the back. But each airline configured their own Business and First sections; Emirates had the entire top deck devoted to that and was, to my knowledge, the only airline to do this. In short, filling the plane with Business passengers is key to their business model. Ergo, this has proven problematic for Emirates and last I heard they were going to be putting Economy passengers up on the top deck too. However, I couldn't see the service being viable with only Economy passengers and I suspect this is behind the lack of sustainability. Double-edged sword. And, of course, runways have to be long enough for the A380 and boarding gates needed modification.

We nearly missed a call at Dubai on a leg back to Sydney and rushed up to the gate only to find it virtually closed but we had inadvertently arrived on the bottom deck. They would not allow us to enter there and walk upstairs inside the plane; oh no - we had to find the lift at Dubai to provide access to the plane on another level of the airport. This was an extremely stressful experience.

But aviation is a miracle I'm so grateful for in my lifetime. And it all moved so quickly from those first dangerous and tentative flights at the beginning of the 20th century!! Turns out the problem was essentially HOW to become airborne!!

John F
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Re: The Long Goodbye for Airbus A380

Post by John F » Fri Feb 15, 2019 7:29 am

I've flown business class exactly once. Coming back from London, I had a seat in economy class which the airline wanted to use for a handicapped passenger, so I agreed to move up front to one of those pods. I've never flown first class. For me, getting there by plane is just getting there, it's not any kind of fun, and the economy passengers arrive at exactly the same time as those in the more expensive seats, so I fly as cheaply as I can, put up with a few uncomfortable hours en route, and spend what I saved in London, Vienna, Berlin, or wherever.
John Francis

Belle
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Re: The Long Goodbye for Airbus A380

Post by Belle » Fri Feb 15, 2019 12:23 pm

John F wrote:
Fri Feb 15, 2019 7:29 am
I've flown business class exactly once. Coming back from London, I had a seat in economy class which the airline wanted to use for a handicapped passenger, so I agreed to move up front to one of those pods. I've never flown first class. For me, getting there by plane is just getting there, it's not any kind of fun, and the economy passengers arrive at exactly the same time as those in the more expensive seats, so I fly as cheaply as I can, put up with a few uncomfortable hours en route, and spend what I saved in London, Vienna, Berlin, or wherever.
This is the situation for the vast majority of air travellers. From Australia we have to go such huge distances; Dubai 14.5 hours and Dallas nearly 16. No stops. And it's more comfortable in Business Class on the A380; when you change at Dubai for the Boeing 777 it's an additional 6 hours in a much smaller plane and rather trying. I cannot sleep on those flat beds but my husband can and he was able to drive for the 2.5 hours home from the airport after our last trip to Europe. I am usually up the back in the bar area (not drinking) talking to people for hours in my airline socks and bored to death with that humdrum noise and that cold air blowing from above. It's like being in a strange dormitory when lights are out; kids getting around in night attire with their fluffy toys and adults either lying down reading or sleeping - and no entertainment units turned on. I love looking at the A380 from the airport lounge, but I'm always glad to get off after a long-haul flight.

John F
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Re: The Long Goodbye for Airbus A380

Post by John F » Fri Feb 15, 2019 12:52 pm

That travel time is about twice as long as New York/London. Whew! I've never been able to sleep on an airplane but I might manage it on the Sydney(?)/Dubai route.

I'm sure the A380 will continue to fly that route for many years, unless the traffic falls off for some reason and they can't fill the plane.
John Francis

Belle
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Re: The Long Goodbye for Airbus A380

Post by Belle » Fri Feb 15, 2019 5:08 pm

John F wrote:
Fri Feb 15, 2019 12:52 pm
That travel time is about twice as long as New York/London. Whew! I've never been able to sleep on an airplane but I might manage it on the Sydney(?)/Dubai route.

I'm sure the A380 will continue to fly that route for many years, unless the traffic falls off for some reason and they can't fill the plane.
Yes, that's the Sydney/Dubai route. I could only travel Economy on an A380 because there is so much more room and bigger seats. It's never easy, of course, but the only time I've done it in Economy (2015) I had nobody sitting beside me both ways to Dubai (do-able) but a full 777 to Hamburg which took nearly 7 hours was a NIGHTMARE. The man sitting next to me, but one, was well over 6' tall and had his legs buried in the seat in front of him for 7 hours!! I always pick the aisle seat for a quick escape but en route Hamburg during air turbulence a steward's tray hit me in the side of my head. Out came the cameras and concerned staff and I looked across the aisle to my husband and mouthed "never again"!!

John F
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Re: The Long Goodbye for Airbus A380

Post by John F » Fri Feb 15, 2019 5:37 pm

In a 747, I go for an aisle seat in the middle section. (That should be in the past tense - my traveling days are over.)
John Francis

Belle
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Re: The Long Goodbye for Airbus A380

Post by Belle » Fri Feb 15, 2019 8:22 pm

John F wrote:
Fri Feb 15, 2019 5:37 pm
In a 747, I go for an aisle seat in the middle section. (That should be in the past tense - my traveling days are over.)
I feel much the same way, to be honest. We will go to New Zealand but that's about it (my husband has family there). My John is flying to Perth on Wednesday to be with our 40y/o son; he will leave from just north of Sydney (where we live) and must fly via Brisbane, where he waits over for 2 hours then is conveyed by Qantas straight across to Perth. It will take him, in all, 8-9 hours!! The indirect route is because he is not leaving from a major capital city.

Looking at these flights taking off from Melbourne you can see what the flying times are from Australia. The closest, of course, is NZ - but that isn't counted because it's closer than Perth. Your country would be the same for national travel. John was reading about the cessation of A380 production just this morning and he said that the US didn't purchase any of these aircraft. Really, they are amazing birds and I'm glad I've travelled quite a lot on them since 2009.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1-txE3HsOMk

John F
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Re: The Long Goodbye for Airbus A380

Post by John F » Fri Feb 15, 2019 11:33 pm

This article may interest you:

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/14/busi ... -a380.html

In the middle of the story I see that no American-based airline is flying the Boeing 747 any more. Of course many other airlines all over the world still use 747s including some flights to and from the U.S. And the 747's offspring, Boeing's 747-8, is still in production

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/19/busi ... ule=inline

I'm sure many passengers would rather have a direct flight to where they're going, even if in a smaller plane that is cramped, than have to change flights at a hub somewhere, prolonging their travel time and with the possibility that their baggage may not make the connecting flight and be delayed or lost. That happened to me twice. Changing planes in Seattle for a flight to Korea, my suitcase disappeared and never turned up. And at de Gaulle airport in Paris, my flight from New York arrived so late that I and a couple of friends just managed to sprint and catch the plane to Berlin; our baggage arrived at the hotel several hours later. At least it arrived!
Last edited by John F on Sat Feb 16, 2019 5:10 am, edited 1 time in total.
John Francis

Belle
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Re: The Long Goodbye for Airbus A380

Post by Belle » Sat Feb 16, 2019 3:45 am

Thanks so much for those links which provided very interesting reading. Yes, the problem of missing baggage is one which has bedevilled both industry and customers since (flying) time immemorial. Fortunately we haven't had that experience ourselves. But on our trip to NZ in 2017 one of our companions from Melbourne waited 3 days for her baggage and it was just a straight hop from Melbourne to Christchurch!! Good old Air New Zealand!!

I'm not sure I'd agree that one of the problems with R&D for the A380 was 'poor forecasting' as many large airlines have gone broke - including PanAm - for many other reasons than forecasting. It's fiercely difficult to predict traveller behaviour; when they'll go and where they go. The buzzword of the moment is 'agility' but not all businesses can be agile because of their size, market and capital investment. A steel-making or car manufacturing plant is a classic example.

A very good British documentary, "The Shape of Things to Come", takes a look at the rapid developments (and failures) of the British aircraft industry after the war - which was then the biggest in the world. It's provides a litany of losses and failures and if you can get to watch this program it is highly recommended.

Holden Fourth
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Re: The Long Goodbye for Airbus A380

Post by Holden Fourth » Sat Feb 16, 2019 4:53 am

I love the A380. Like Belle, I'm an Aussie and travel can be a long affair. I first flew business class on the A380 from Brisbane to Auckland and absolutely loved the bar at the back where you could talk to other travelers.

In 2017 I flew BNE/DBX/LHR in business class and once again the opportunity to stretch my legs by going up to the bar at the back of businesss class was what made the trip enjoyable.

On the return trip I was in first class and it cost less than the initial business class trip - something to do with paying in GBP as opposed to $AUS. Of course I chose the shower option. All of these trips were on an Emirates A380 (using Qantas share codes)
In April I'm going back to the UK flying from Perth to London on the Qantas Dreamliner. I will miss the lack of a socialisation space.

Belle
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Re: The Long Goodbye for Airbus A380

Post by Belle » Sat Feb 16, 2019 5:26 am

Holden Fourth wrote:
Sat Feb 16, 2019 4:53 am
I love the A380. Like Belle, I'm an Aussie and travel can be a long affair. I first flew business class on the A380 from Brisbane to Auckland and absolutely loved the bar at the back where you could talk to other travelers.

In 2017 I flew BNE/DBX/LHR in business class and once again the opportunity to stretch my legs by going up to the bar at the back of businesss class was what made the trip enjoyable.

On the return trip I was in first class and it cost less than the initial business class trip - something to do with paying in GBP as opposed to $AUS. Of course I chose the shower option. All of these trips were on an Emirates A380 (using Qantas share codes)
In April I'm going back to the UK flying from Perth to London on the Qantas Dreamliner. I will miss the lack of a socialisation space.
Wonderful being in First Class - complete with granite tops on their basins. When I saw that I thought, "wait, what...weight"!? Qantas is operating the non-stop Dreamliner from Perth and I'm wondering about that - it's a long haul. Do let us know how you go with it. The Business Class on Latam's 787 Dreamliner was superb (Sydney - Auckland) but I don't know about Qantas. You just cannot make those huge flights in Economy over the age of 50; it's cruel and gruelling. Even on the A380 in Economy I started to become distressed half way back into the flight from DBX to SYD; I just couldn't fall asleep and was beyond exhausted. Mind you, I cannot sleep much on the A380 in Business and have done as you do up the back with the socializing. And they have the Chauffeur Service too, of course. It's great to get to your destination and be offloaded and out of the airport "priority". But it's a huge amount of money; at this time it's about $Aus18,000 for two, Sydney to Europe return.

And I'm getting too old and tired for travel now. But, who knows...

Belle
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Re: The Long Goodbye for Airbus A380

Post by Belle » Mon Feb 18, 2019 2:27 am

My husband told me last night that Singapore Airlines is selling two A380s FOR SCRAP!!!🙁

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