Airbus A380s flying in high-density 800-seat configurations on intra-Asian low-cost services will become a reality over the next 20 years, predicts the airframer's product strategy chief.

"The A380 is the ultimate low-cost airliner," says Laurent Rouaud, senior vice-president market and strategy. "I have no doubt that there is a market - especially within Asia - for the A380 with low-cost carriers."

He adds that Airbus has already sold the A380 to one customer - Air Austral - which will configure the aircraft in a high-density 840-seat configuration for long-haul charter flights between Europe and Reunion in the Indian Ocean.

Asia represents the single biggest market for the ultra-large A380, says Rouaud, and expects the region to eventually account for around 50-60% of the backlog. Today it is around 25% - 42 of the 182 A380s on backlog are destined for Asia-Pacific carriers.

"The reason this is the biggest market for the A380 is simple: the Asia-Pacific market is very concentrated, both on intra- and long-haul routes," says Rouaud.

Airbus forecasts that over the next 20 years, the number of megacities (defined as destinations with more than 10,000 daily long-haul passengers) will rise from 37 today to 82.

"The A380 is built to fly between these megacities," says Rouaud. "We forecast it will be operating 200 long-haul routes from megacities in 20 years."

Source: Flight Daily News