Asiana Airlines announced plans to acquire six Airbus A380s (Bloomberg, 06-Jan-2011). The order is valued at USD1780 million at list prices according to a regulatory filing. Deliveries will commence from Apr-2014. The carrier is yet to make an engine selection for the order. Asiana’s major rival, Korean Air, has orders for 10 A380s, with deliveries due to commence in May-2011. Korean Air’s A380s will be configured with just 407 seats, the lowest seating density announced for the aircraft to date.
Asiana Airlines announces order for six A380s
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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.
Northeast Asian airlines seek India connections to diversify away from SE Asia, China competition
Aviation has yet to define India’s role in the trans-Pacific growth story. Geography allows connections from North America to India via Europe, the Gulf and – more quietly – Northeast Asia. Northeast Asian airlines have a theoretical advantage linking India with the North American west coast. The challenge they face is fitting a square peg into a round hole.
The presence of Northeast Asian airlines is large in North America but small in India, while Southeast Asian airlines are small in North America but large in India. Cathay Pacific, and to a lesser extent All Nippon Airways, are in the strategic sweet spot, relatively. Growing China-India relations could result in Chinese airlines playing a larger role in this market. The different transit regions available mean that there is competition between partnerships and joint ventures. These pressures could grow as the Indian market continues expanding.