My colleague Tim Bray posted a revealing little rant today about the first flight of the Airbus A380: “On this page there is a frightful lie, namely that the plane will seat 555 passengers with lots of room for lounges and shopping and so on. This claim is oblivious to the facts that most airlines are losing money and most travelers are highly price-sensitive; ergo, this turkey will carry 800-plus suffering souls packed in like sardines”
Now I always thought that Tim, as a Canadian, would be less prone to the typically American habit of assuming that “US = world”. If you check the current orders for the plane, you’ll see that the vast majority of the customers are non-American companies* that are not losing money. Furthermore it’s clear that many of the first A380s will be deployed on the routes between Europe and south-east Asia, which are much less price-sensitive than, say, BOS-SFO. Airlines like Singapore and Emirates aren’t going to emulate Ryanair any time soon; they’re going to compete on service and amenities. Just because the U.S. domestic airline industry is a shambles….
The bottom line: I expect that there will be plenty of 555 seater A380s with bars, shops, and casinos. Just not here, unfortunately.
* In fact the only U.S. customers for the A380 are FedEx and UPS; presumably their packages don’t mind being “packed in like sardines”….