Qantas announced (24-Aug-09) it has taken delivery of its fourth A380, to be deployed to increase capacity on Sydney-London and Sydney-Los Angeles services from 07-Sep-09. The carrier added it plans to take delivery of its fifth and sixth A380s by the end of the year, to further increase capacity on these routes, in addition to Melbourne-Los Angeles service. [more]
Qantas takes delivery of fourth A380
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Iran Air drops the A380 from its Airbus order; a logical decision as the A380 ages, enters mid-life
Iranian aviation is being revitalised with the long-term prospects of re-establishing a global hub in Tehran. The first of many steps is re-fleeting and growth at the flag operator Iran Air, which has confirmed orders for 180 aircraft from Airbus and Boeing. The 80-aircraft Boeing order includes 737 MAXs, 777-300ERs and 777-9s, while the 100-aircraft Airbus order includes A320s, A321s, A330s and A350s.
Iran Air has dropped preliminary plans to take 12 A380s. Although this is being marked as the latest blow to the A380 order, Iran Air taking A380s was always a distant prospect. Tehran is a small hub prospect in the short term and, irrespective of whether Iran Air could find sustainable markets for the type, by the time Iran Air planned to receive its first A380 the type would be well into its mid-life, with dwindling spare parts and support.
A380 phase-out is beginning. Of the A380's early operators: Singapore Airlines is not renewing the leases on its initial A380s, Emirates will have new A380s replace older A380s it expects to part-out, and Qantas is studying stretched A350 types and the 777X to replace its A380s. That said, there may be renaissance concepts for the aircraft, such as Malaysia Airlines' charter plans.
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.