INDIA AVIATION: Airbus upbeat on A380 in India

Hyderabad
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Airbus believes there is a market for 56 very large aircraft, such as the A380, among Indian carriers over the next two decades.

The airframer revealed its latest market forecast on the sidelines of the India Aviation show in Hyderabad.

“We were very glad when the A380 was approved for operations in India,” says Joost van der Heijden, head of marketing for Airbus in Asia. “It took a bit of time to achieve this, but we see the A380 as a very important aircraft for this market, offering the lowest seat mile costs on services both to and from India.”

India’s civil aviation ministry recently announced that the A380 would be allowed to serve four key cities: Mumbai, New Delhi, Bangalore, and Hyderabad.

Heijden sees the aircraft as ideal for supporting high traffic routes, such as those from key Indian cities to European hubs like London Heathrow, as well as other hubs in Asia Pacific. He does not see passenger demand as being a problem, as passenger traffic is growing at double-digit rates in India.

Airbus had a large presence at the show with an A380 provided by Emirates dominating the static park.

Heijden notes that Asian carriers such as Singapore Airlines use the type on a range of routes, from long-haul intercontinental services down to medium-range, regional routes.

Heijden refused to be drawn on recent market commentary that the A380 will need an engine upgrade to help it remain relevant as newer types coming on the market, such as the Boeing 777-9X and A350-1000. Both are large twin-engined aircraft with excellent economics, and are due to enter service in the latter part of this decade.

“The A380 has the most effective seat mile cost today and will continue to be the most cost effective going forward,” he says.

He notes that Airbus is "always looking for ways to improve its already good seat mile costs.”

One possibility is the introduction of a 3-5-3 configuration that retains 18in wide seats. This configuration was mentioned at the recent Singapore Air Show.

Airbus also remains steadfast that it has no plans to introduce a stretched A380 – the long rumoured -900 variant.

“We’re comfortable with it as it is today,” Heijden says. “There is a definite market for the A380-800.”