British Airways will order Airbus A380s

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.

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5 Responses to British Airways will order Airbus A380s

  1. kt 26 March, 2007 at 2:32 pm #

    But I thought it was a yield game, and BA has no intention of dumping a gazillion seats on the Kangaroo route a la Emir-Eti-Qatar-ates? In fact, I thought BA couldn’t wait to drop Sydney?

    Nobody of substance has bought the plane outside the Middle East/Singapore/Australia. Virgin has all but dumped its A380 order. Even opinion formers like Cathay haven’t bothered

    I think you overestimate how much biz travellers care about the metal they travel on. Flat beds, nice food, IFE and Singapore girls are one thing… but a lump of pan-European metal? Who gives a 4X?

    My money is on 747-8s and 777-300ERs stuffed to the gills with next generation Club World flat beds…

  2. John Price 26 March, 2007 at 3:53 pm #

    Thanks for sensible forecasting, Kieran .. How come the violent anti-Airbus guys get so furious ??? BA has enough problems with its “ageing Auntie” image (the Singapore Girls were a response to BA’s slightly governessy hosties of the time, a factor which may have chnged, of course), and not having the real Top-of-the-Line kit on their high-visibility routes wouldn’t help the income side of their balance sheet.
    And those sensitive to the “warmed over” comment might remember that the 747 has been “warmed-over” from the start, being a re-hash of an unsuccessful Big Military Transport proposal (whence the high-perched flight deck).
    And if it’s really true that Virgin’s cooled on the product, could be that there’ll be some production-line slots available ??? (But can anybody see Sir Richard letting them go to his bugbear ?).
    Pity the extreme nationalist Right wingers can’t admit that a counterpart to Boring is needed by the airlines, and as “Great” Britain decided long ago that the civil market was “too risky”, and potential rivals such as Lockheed and Douglas (with or without the Mac)shot themselves in the foot, where else do you go but to a multi-national grouping to avoid a monopoly ?

  3. FlyingFrog 7 April, 2007 at 8:41 am #

    Being French(but not from Toulouse calm down!)and having worked(Senior Purser/Trainer for a major UK based airline)and lived 17 years now in the UK,I am always amazed to witness such vehement reactions against the Airbus products…what’s so shameful about showing some pride and yes support about one’s(however indirectly)own achievements?Have you ever met an American systematically rejecting Boeing planes and celebrating its rival across the Atlantic?!Brits make all Airbus wings for God’s sake!Or is the more deeply-rooted problem the fact that Airbus was always more of a Franco-German thing really?Is it an unworded feeling(and unfounded nowadays) of “buying French”,which makes it so much better to be Seattle’s little faithful admirers,no matter what? Even recently my Captain(an Airbus one!) commented,however jokingly,to a customer how he was embarassed to fly anything with the word Airbus written on its side…hardly professional to say the least,but so revealing of that “Boeing Airlines” ongoing attitude!I am sure Americans showed a little more enthusiasm in the late 60s when the 747 was being unveiled…why can’t we do the same with the A380?

  4. Yossarian 15 April, 2007 at 11:51 am #

    Gawd’ don’t we all love to speculate.

    747-8 is my bet, that with a package of 777-200/300′s. A380? not very likely yet imho.

  5. Gideon Ewers 21 September, 2007 at 3:41 pm #

    I wonder where JP got his origins of the 747 in the failed C5 bid idea from? Could it be the same place I got mine? Certainly, I was told a very similar story…by Joe Sutter…I’d argue that Joe knew a thing or two about the 747 programme.

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