Will New Order Boost Fortunes of World’s Largest Passenger Plane?
Photos by Paul Thompson
Airbus has finally received an order from a Japanese airline for the world’s largest passenger plane. Japan’s All Nippon Airways, or ANA has ordered three of the behemoth quad-engined jets, valued at roughly $1.2 billion. The Himalayan Times reports these planes will be used for flights to Hawaii and other overseas destinations.
ANA gained a lot of attention this year, for the reception of a Boeing 787 Dreamliner, painted like R2D2 to promote “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.” The airline also has a Boeing 777-300ER featuring the new BB-8 droid from the movie. ANA was the first airline in the world to take the 787 Dreamliner into its fleet.
In 2015, the future of the A380 remained cloudy, because the plane had received no orders for the year, and only had a couple more years’ worth of orders on the books. Dubai-based Emirates has openly stated it wants Airbus to produce an updated version of the A380 with newer, more efficient engines.
Airbus has yet to accommodate Emirates’ wishes.
Emirates currently flies 65 A380s — the world’s largest fleet of that airplane type. The company plans to add 20 more to the fleet in 2016, along with 16 Boeing 777-300ERs — replacing such older models as A330s, A340s and early model Boeing 777s. That’s not to say a three-plane order is a lifeline for the program. The plane had collected zero orders for the year, as of November 30th, and it’s not quite clear if this order will go under 2015 or 2016 orders.
In November, Emirates introduced the world’s highest-density A380s, capable of holding an astounding 617 passengers. To make room, eighteen of the roomy Business Class seats were removed. The famous First Class showers were also taken out. These particular planes will be used to fly to Copenhagen, Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur.
Currently, no U.S. airlines fly the A380. They just don’t fit into the business models for the likes of American, Delta or United. Delta and United do fly the Boeing 747-400, but both airlines are slowly retiring those, with no plans to replace them with aircraft as large as the A380 or 747.
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