Japan’s Skymark Airlines was scheduled to take the A380, but it went bankrupt. ANA won Airbus’ support as a creditor to take control of Skymark — all they wanted was Skymark’s slots at Tokyo Haneda — by agreeing to accept the Skymark A380s. ANA says they’ll operate the planes to Honolulu.
No US airline has taken an A380. Many airlines regret theirs. It’s a big plane, expensive to operate, although cost-effective if you can fill it. The idea was to fly routes at slot-congested airports, like Tokyo Narita and London Heathrow, where an A380 could replace two smaller planes. But an airline that does that loses frequently, and becomes less convenient for time-sensitive business travelers. And adding seats to a market drives down the price the carrier can sell those seats for.
What’s more operating just a couple of planes is expensive, you need crews trained for the aircraft and you need parts and a maintenance program for the aircraft, the fixed costs of a plane type don’t get spread across a large number of aircraft. But it’s a niche player for most.
That’s a key reason that only Emirates has really made the Airbus A380 work. They fill planes with lots of passengers at low prices, and fly them long distances. And they have a lot of planes.
To paraphrase Jacques Lory in Casablanca, ‘the A380 is a drug on the market, everybody sells A380s, there are A380s everywhere.’
- Singapore is returning its first five
- Malaysia is trying to unload its six
- Emirates itself is replacing the first 25 of theirs.
New A380s aren’t selling, the aircraft has been on the chopping block, and the used market is flooding with aircraft.
Against the backdrop of cheap A380s, and a bit of monkey see monkey do, Hawaiian Airlines is reportedly considering becoming the first US airline to operate the plane. (HT: One Mile at a Time)
Hawaiian Airlines is waiting to see whether six A330neo jetliners ordered from Airbus will enable it to begin service to Europe. The U.S. carrier also is looking at adding more routes to China and the eastern U.S., and examining whether it should consider acquiring the A380 superjumbo, according to its chief executive officer.
Hawaiian wants to fly to London, but they swapped A350 orders for A330s and they don’t know if those will have the range. And there are other routes for which they want greater range aircraft:
Southeast Asia is beyond the range of Hawaiian’s 23 current-generation A330s and nine Boeing Co. 767s, though more Australian flights would be an option, according to the CEO.
It sounds like what they really want, though, are either A350s (including potentially the upcoming A350ULR or ‘ultra long range’) or Boeing 787s. They could even potentially pick up Boeing 777-200LRs (long range) on the cheap with A350s as they replace the older Boeing at some carriers.
They could operate the A380 on Honolulu – Tokyo and Honolulu – Los Angeles, but they’d be giving up frequency on routes that are already competitive. They’d have to fill a giant plane with passengers willing to fly in a narrower range of times, likely driving down yield.
The question, it seems, is whether Hawaiian could secure the planes cheap enough to turn a stupid idea into one that’s merely dumb. And whether they remember, before copying ANA with an A380 on Honolulu – Tokyo (which ANA hasn’t done yet), that ANA doesn’t really want to do it but has to send the planes somewhere. Hawaiian doesn’t have to send A380s somewhere, since they don’t have any yet and would probably be well-advised to not get any.