Air France has pulled its first of a fleet of ten A380s out of service.
It joins five others previously retired by Singapore, one of which has been scrapped for lack of second-hand customers. The other nine AF 380s will be gone by 2022.
This evolving situation again underscores the need to question ambient trend-line thinking.
Twenty years ago, every major airport had “VLJs” – very large jets – as part of their must-have future capacity planning, with the future need to handle airplanes transiting 1,000 passengers (500 arriving and 500 departing) at a clip.
With a few exceptions – Boyd Group International being one – the me-too consensus in the aviation consulting business was that the A380 was going to be the future flagship of international air commerce. And why not – bigger and bigger has been the trend ever since the DC-3 eclipsed the Boeing 247, and it and its followers being leapfrogged by larger and larger airliners, right up to the 747, DC-10, and L-1011.
We, along with a only couple of other firms, urged caution, pointing out issues such as total changes in the character of the air transportation system, the raw number of A380 units needed to be sold to cover development costs, as well as the A380’s limited mission flexibility, were demand-limiters that were not being considered.