Airbus stated Rolls-Royce’s plans to take engines from A380s in its assembly line will not disrupt production (Reuters, 16-Nov-2010). There were concerns the removal of the engines would mean Airbus would not be able to transfer the A380s from the assembly plant in Toulouse to the finishing facility in Germany. Qantas confirmed it will take eight new Trent 900 engines from two new A380s on the production line to replace faulty engines on its operational A380s (The Australian, 17-Nov-2010/The Australian Financial Review, 18-Nov-2010). Spokeswoman Olivia Wirth confirmed the carrier has replaced three engines and is now assessing all other A380 engines. The carrier may reportedly have to replace 10 engines in total. There are now concerns Qantas will not return its A380s to service until Dec-2010 at the earliest. Airbus CEO Tom Enders stated last week that the manufacturer could deliver a further six A380s by early 2011. The disruptions may not affect deliveries in 2011 (Financial Times Deutschland/Bloomberg, 17-Nov-2010).
Airbus states removal of engines from A380 assembly line will not hurt production
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Where the A380 flies: Japan and intra-Asia routes decline while Australia & Middle East grow
The A380 is once again under media scrutiny, despite there being no major movement on the type. Comments from Air France and Qantas about not taking further A380s have long been assumed, and it has been apparent that Malaysia Airlines does not even have the need for its A380s. Singapore Airlines not renewing the lease on its first A380 is hardly surprising, and offers no definitive conclusion about the A380 or second-hand market; early A380s had different production and are not as efficient as later models. The lack of movement on the A380neo continues to irk the model's largest customer by far, Emirates, and may not make for a productive relationship as Emirates weighs an A350 or 787 order.
For most, the A380 continues to fly. How and where it flies is changing. Flights to and from the Middle East are becoming more common as Gulf airlines, and mostly Emirates, take delivery of A380s. A further shift to the Middle East is inevitable. In Japan there has been a near exodus of A380s; airlines dropping the type as they moved from Narita to Haneda, which cannot accommodate the A380 during the day, and Singapore Airlines down-gauging. Intra-Asia flying is decreasing – notable given the growth of A380s based in the region. Services by the A380 to Australia are growing, perhaps as it becomes an easy market for airlines to redeploy capacity amid European security concerns and trans-Pacific overcapacity.
Emirates-Qantas JV expands as partnerships become more intricate, while some airlines go it alone
Qantas and Emirates are again evolving global airline alliances and partnerships. Four years after announcing their landmark joint venture, Qantas in late 2016 is expected to disclose additions to the way it serves Europe in partnership with Emirates. The possible changes – a new nonstop London flight, reintroducing an Asian stopover – may seem incremental. There is a significant impact to the many airlines competing in the Europe-Australia market, but the underlying relevance is global.
The expansion of the JV would not be possible without the increased comfort that Emirates and Qantas feel toward each other, and their ability to have intricate models for handling the increasingly complicated partnership and number of hubs involved. JVs are no longer in a binary classification of existence or absence; there is a scale from rudimentary to near-consolidation.
As JVs like Qantas-Emirates become more sophisticated, the basic JVs – or even airlines without – are dearly lacking. There has been a profusion of JVs in recent years, with more on the way, but they have tended to be confined. Partners need to be more comfortable with each other in order to add additional airlines and markets, later consolidating as they stitch together individual partnerships.