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Korean Air: A record low density for the A380

28-Oct-2010

20 new A380s are due to be delivered by Airbus this year, almost doubling the global A380 fleet. The next airlines due to join the family of carriers operating the aircraft are Korean Air and China Southern. While China Southern has remained quiet on its seating plans for the aircraft, Korean Air is continuing the trend of offering surprisingly low seat densities.

The Korean carrier has announced it will configure the aircraft with just 400-450 seats. At 400 seats, this is by far the lowest seating density yet seen on the aircraft and well under the 525 seats given by Airbus as standard three-class configuration.

Fitting 400 seats offers only a slight enhancement in capacity over the carrier’s current widebodies. Korean Air’s B747-400 configurations range between 333 seats (10/61/262) and 384 seats (16/58/380), while its B777s have up to 376 seats.

Korean Air will offer just 12 First class seats in its A380s (fewer than Qantas or Emirates) and 94 Business seats - a relatively high proportion compared to most A380 operators.

A380 configurations

Airline

First

Business

Premium Economy

Economy

Total

Korean Air

12

94

-

294-344

400-450

Qantas

14

72

32

332

450

Singapore Airlines

12

60

-

399

471

Emirates (Ultra long range)

14

76

-

399

489

Air France

9

80

38

389

516

Emirates (Long range)

14

76

-

427

517

Lufthansa

9

98

 

420

526

Emirates (Medium range)

-

-

-

-

600

Korean Air has ten A380s on order, with the first due to join the fleet in May-2011. The second, third and fourth will be delivered over the following three months, with a fifth to be delivered by the end of 2011. The remaining five are due to enter service between 2012 and 2014.

The carrier plans to initially operate the A380 on short-haul routes to Japan and other destinations around Asia, to “to allow more passengers to experience the next generation aircraft”. From Aug-2011, the carrier will move the aircraft into more usual territory; long-haul routes into Europe and the US.

More A380 destinations

According to Airbus, the A380 has visited some 116 airports worldwide. Today 20 airports worldwide see A380 daily operations. On top of these 20, more than 50 airports are ready or getting prepared to accommodate the A380. As more aircraft are delivered to current and future operators, the A380 network will grow quickly.

Another boost for the A380 is the news that London Gatwick will soon be able to receive the aircraft. Local authorities gave permission for the aircraft to land at Gatwick, following a GBP43 million investment in six new aircraft stands, including two that are A380 capable. The Gatwick approval follows Emirates’ decision to operate the A380 to Manchester Airport, the first time that the aircraft has operated to a ‘regional airport’.

A380 routes: Oct-2010

Singapore Airlines

Emirates

Qantas

Air France

Base

Destination

Base

Destination

Base

Destination

Base

Destination

Singapore

Sydney

Dubai

London LHR

Melbourne

Los Angeles

Paris CDG

New York JFK

 

Melbourne

 

Sydney-Auckland

 

Singapore-London LHR

 

Johannesburg

 

London

 

Toronto

Sydney

Los Angeles

 

Tokyo

 

Tokyo

 

Seoul

 

Singapore-London LHR

   
 

Paris

 

Paris CDG

       
 

Hong Kong

 

Jeddah

       
 

Zurich

 

Beijing

       
     

Bangkok-Hong Kong

       
     

New York

       

Emirates has already seized on the A380 as a vehicle to push more capacity into markets that are limited by capacity constraints. The carrier switched Toronto services from 364-seat B777s to 489-seat A380s in Jun-2009, when load factors were regularly exceeding 90%. The existing bilateral limits Emirates to three weekly frequencies – a sticking point with the UAE carrier – so switching to the A380 allowed it to increase capacity by 375 seats per week (an increase of approximately one third).

Lufthansa would like to operate high-density A380s into India, subject to government approvals. The existing bilateral with Germany notes the maximum aircraft size may not exceed that of a B747, according to the Indian Ministry of Civil Aviation. Emirates too would like to operate high-capacity A380s to India, although the Indian Government has been reluctant to cede more of the lucrative Middle East-India market to Gulf region carriers, particularly given the financial state of national carrier Air India.

Elsewhere in Asia, Airbus is eager to see Japanese carriers All Nippon Airways and Japan Airlines purchase the aircraft. On a recent marketing tour of Japan, Airbus focused its efforts on the aircraft’s ability to relieve airport congestion, and its potential to act as a replacement for B747s operating on high density domestic routes, such as Tokyo-Sapporo.


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