Over at IAG, Addison Schonland makes this argument below following the US-Europe openish skies deal:
We expect British Airways to rethink its fleet plans now. Does it weigh the replacement fleet with more frequencies (smaller planes) or bigger planes using its slots more efficiently? The former, smaller planes, means slot problems as these are finite, after all LHR has only so much concrete. While this is attractive, it is not something easily achieved. Which means they need to look at bigger planes to use the current slots more effectively. This means 747-8s or A380s.
He’s right. But I’ll go further and say they’ll take A380s. If you’re someone like BA – which is to say a truly global flag-carrier (ie hardly anyone) – then you’re in a fiercely competitive world. And a quick glance at this Airbus table shows you that BA goes head-to-head with every A380 customer so far signed. And I can’t think offhand of any A380 prospects that it doesn’t compete with.
This matters. If you accept the argument (and I realise many of you won’t) that passengers will choose to fly on the A380 rather than the 747, then if you’re a BA marketeer it’s pretty clear which aircraft you’ll be recommending to the board. The airlines buying the A380 – look at Singapore Airlines – are going to wring every drop of marketing equity out of it that they possibly can. Even if it had never occurred to you that you might want to fly in it, you’ll believe you should.
BA’s had an uncomfortable experience with this before. In the early days in the mid-90s when only about two airlines in the world had interactive IFE that actually worked – SIA and Virgin – then that became a powerful differentiator. BA was slow to the IFE race – and anyone facing 14 hours to or from Singapore suddenly had a very good reason to put themselves in the tender hands of the Singapore Girls. Plenty of other people discovered Virgin through its IFE and then also discovered that they liked other things about the experience (which, if you haven’t done both, is markedly different.)
I think BA will have enough challenges in the next decade without going to market with aircraft perceived as warmed over jumbos against the competition’s flying palaces (or whatever). And Airbus will pretty much kill to get the deal.
Watch this space.