The global operator base for Airbus’ 21st century flagship A380 will expand significantly this year – with new operators including two Asia-Pacific airlines – underscoring the smooth industrial process now in place for this double-deck aircraft, as well as its effectiveness in capturing passenger traffic growth.
Four customers are scheduled to receive their initial jetliners in 2014 – representing the most ever in a calendar year since A380 deliveries began in 2007, while also bringing the operator count up to 14. The activity will kick off in March with handover of the no. 1 A380 for Qatar Airways – which has ordered 10, and will operate the aircraft on its premier routes.
“The A380 programme is running at an ‘optimum cruise speed and altitude’ from an industrial standpoint, as evidenced by Airbus’ capability to add the four additional operators in a single year,” said Antonio da Costa, the Head of A380 Marketing.
Also taking delivery of aircraft in 2014 are the two Asia-Pacific operators: South Korea-based Asiana Airlines and Skymark Airlines of Japan. Both have six A380s on order each, enabling them to leverage the A380’s excellent capacity and efficiency to meet anticipated demand in the world’s fastest-growing area for air transport services. Asiana is to receive its no. 1 aircraft during the second quarter of 2014, followed by Skymark’s handover – scheduled to take place by year-end.
Rounding out the list of new operators this year is United Arab Emirates flag carrier Etihad Airways. Its first of 10 aircraft on order will be provided by the close of 2014.
According to da Costa, the A380 represents the tool of choice to capture anticipated airline market growth. “Airbus foresees a doubling in traffic over the next 15 years, and on top of that, we’re coming out of an economic situation that left traffic in slow growth mode. Now that we’re moving away from the crisis, the A380 is the ideal vehicle to accommodate growth.”
With seating capacities ranging from 400 to more than 800 passengers, the A380 is an essential part of the solution: alleviating traffic congestion at busy airports by transporting more passengers with no additional flights – and at much lower cost, da Costa added.