Last updated: 11:00 AM ET, Fri August 19 2016

Is the Market for Very Large Aircraft Dead?

Airlines & Airports | Patrick Clarke | August 19, 2016

Is the Market for Very Large Aircraft Dead?

PHOTO: A Boeing 747 aircraft. (Photo courtesy of Thinkstock)

While it's true that bigger planes can hold more passengers and thus sell more airline tickets, very large aircraft like the Boeing 747 and Airbus A380 face a very uncertain future.

In a recent post in the Leeham News and Comment, aerospace consultant Scott Hamilton proclaimed that "the very large aircraft market is dead — at least for now."

The Boeing 747, which debuted back in 1970, can carry as many as 416 passengers in three classes, while the Airbus A380, launched a decade ago, can transport as many as 525 passengers.

Nonetheless, there's no longer a demand for that capacity.

"The favorite appears to be 300-370 passengers, and even the higher end is currently struggling," wrote Hamilton. 

READ MORE: Boeing: Losses Could Lead To Discontinuation of 747

Boeing has cut back on 747 production dramatically, planning to build roughly six a year moving forward. What's more, the company is likely to decide soon whether it will continue with plans for a 450-passenger 777-10.

Meanwhile, the Airbus A380's top customer, Emirates pushed for an upgraded model only to give up after being denied. "I can't force Toulouse [France] to do anything," Clark told reporters in June via the National. "My main concern is that they stop producing the plane."

Clark isn't alone, according to Hamilton.

"Although Boeing has the 405-425 passenger 777-9, Airbus ponders a competing airplane and Boeing considers a 450 passenger 777-10, it doesn't appear that airlines are rushing to this size aircraft — not at all."


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