Airbus is reacting to concerns that appraisers are setting A380 residual values too low by re-emphasising the ultra-large airliner's long-term viability in secondary markets.
Derek Davies, investor marketing director at Airbus, believes some appraisers wrongly doubt that the A380 passenger aircraft can be successfully switched to the freighter role in the longer term through after-market conversions.
© Airbus / computer graphic by i3M
FedEx was interested in cargo conversions when it had A380Fs on order
If that belief prevails, it could pose a long-term threat to the A380's residual values on the secondary market and perhaps dampen enthusiasm for new aircraft sales. Weak residual values could make potential buyers nervous about losing too much money on their initial investment.
The emergence of a secondhand market will be critical for estimates of A380 residual value to improve, as appraisers look for long-term market viability when they make their projections for banks and investors. Most widebody airliners are switched to a freighter role after around 15-20 years of carrying passengers.
But Davies, who addressed the US Valuation Seminar hosed by Flightglobal.com's sister company Commercial Aviation Media, complains that the appraisers' concerns about the A380's residual values are based on the false assumption that the A380 will not be a force in the market for converted freighters after 20 years.
And he says Airbus designers intentionally designed the passenger A380 with freighter conversions in mind.
"The freighter capability [of the A380] is still there," Davies said on 3 October. "We have the availability of [passenger-to-freighter] because it was part of the initial design of the aircraft."
Davies had sought to get clearance to release more detail about the freighter conversion model in time for the valuation seminar, but corporate approvals did not come fast enough.
When FedEx Express was customer for the new-build A380F, it said it expected it would be interested in buying ex-airline A380s for conversion to freighters.
However, some observers believe that with the resurrection of the new-build A380F programme far from certain, it is difficult to forecast whether a market for freighter conversions will materialise as the former could be vital to proving that the concept of an all-cargo A380 works.
Source: Flight International