The A380 continues to demonstrate its passenger-pleasing capabilities, and is being given high marks for operational performance by its airlines after more than 18 months in commercial service.
To date, over 2 million passengers have flown aboard the 17 A380s in the colours of Singapore Airlines, Emirates and Qantas - with the fleet being utilised on a growing global route network, and clocking up over 50,000 revenue flight hours in 5,500 flights since first delivery.
Singapore Airlines, which inaugurated the first-ever service with Airbus' 21st century flagship in October 2007, said the A380 experienced the smoothest introduction of any of the carrier's all-new aircraft types, while the jetliner's entry-into-service was characterised as an "amazing outcome" by Qantas and "outstanding" by Emirates.
Julien Manhes, Airbus' A380 Product Marketing Manager, said this is a result of the unprecedented service introduction preparations that were made by Airbus in cooperation with the airlines and airports. The activity began during the jetliner's development phase, and continued through the A380's route proving, certification and service debut.
"Airline confidence in the A380 is underscored by Qantas, which flew the Melbourne-Los Angeles route on its first day of revenue service," Manhes explained. "Qantas is operating this 6,000 naut. mi.-plus route with the full 450-passenger capacity and cargo without any range problems."
Customer feedback has been excellent, with passengers commending the A380's seating comfort in all classes of service, as well as the jetliner's significantly lower cabin noise levels. Singapore Airlines reported an "overwhelmingly positive" response, while Emirates said the jetliner is "hugely popular...passengers are getting off the A380 feeling good." Qantas feedback included the following comment: "There never has been anything like the A380, and customer reaction has been outstanding."
According to Manhes, airlines are finding an "A380 effect" as passengers ask to purchase tickets specifically on service operated by the aircraft - resulting in higher load factors (occupancy rates) for A380 flights.
The operating experience of A380 airlines also has been positive, with the aircraft demonstrating its low operating costs, fuel efficiency, and reduced noise levels at airport arrivals and departures.
Singapore Airlines CEO Chew Choon Seng was quoted as saying his carrier's A380s are performing better than promised by Airbus in terms of technical performance - specifically fuel consumption, with the aircraft achieving a 20 per cent better fuel burn than its 747-400s in seat/mile terms.
Some 85 airports around the world have been visited by A380s, and the 17 aircraft currently in airline service are serving 12 destinations: Auckland, Bangkok, Dubai, Hong Kong, London, Los Angeles, Melbourne, Paris, Singapore, Sydney, Tokyo and Toronto. "Airport compatibility is not an issue with the A380," Manhes added.