11 Dec, '05

This can’t just be called an airplane, it should have a new word invented for its exclusive use, like the aircruiseliner or something like that. Just LOOK at the diagram and revel in a whole deck of first class, one below that is a full deck of business class (the cattle is lower still), restaurant, duty free shopping area, state-rooms, elevators to all decks and customers vying with each other on who could equip it with as many gadgets and trinkets as possible to wow their customers, with some airlines expecting their customers to find any excuse to travel onboard. Emirates for instance expects to achieve 80% occupancy in very short order, FedEx is salivating at the thought of packing it to the hilt and achieving better courier economies of scale with this aircraft. As to the number of passengers airlines could pack into it? How does 500+ grab you?

Here are a couple of pictures to wet your appetite, I give you, ladies and gentlemen, the new Airbus 380:

click to enlarge, opens in a new window

What a way to travel… or is it? Would you fly in it? Would this be your preferred mode of travel?

Thanks again Sam!

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Comments (23)

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  1. chrisamillion says:


    The first one of these flew through Brisbane a few weeks ago….unfortunatley I didn’t get to see it! Man…it would be awesome to fly on one of them!

  2. mahmood says:

    Re: Aircruiseliner

    They’re going back to the late 70s thankfully, where service and luxury really mattered. I remember the first few times I flew on Gulf Air’s Tristar, the Lockheed L1011, they had a bar complete with bar stools and sitting area, proper tables for dinner and of course to play cards on as well! Soon thereafter they ripped all of that out and stuffed the fore cabin with wide first-class seats, I thought those days will never come back but the 380 seems to have the room required to re-introduce that and more.

    Emirates Airlines ordered 45 of these beasts.

    I’m a bit worried though at the casualty figures if (God forbid) one of these airplains come down… I would rather they make them smaller and faster, I would even not mind having a restaurant, bar and shopping area on board!

  3. anonymous says:


    I will be surprised if many airlines go the “luxury” route with these. The ability to have 500-600 plus asses every 18 inches is too great and as fuel cost soar packing in the passengers is more important that creature comforts. God forbid when one of these goes down fully loaded.

    It is a great looking bird and I can’t wait to fly in one.

  4. cerebralwaste says:


    And like all good experimental aircraft it has a Foam Construction Rudder! Doesn’t that just make you feel so good inside?

  5. anonymous says:

    Re: Aircruiseliner

    Yeah, most airlines certainly won’t order the “luxury”-version. Airbus is already aiming for a version with more than 1000 seats (,1518,386392,00.html ). I guess that’s the way to go for many airlines.

  6. anonymous says:


    Can you imagine the crowd when you go through customs?

    I like the idea of the Concord – rapid travel – more than the ideal of a flying cruiseship. Problem is that at $7000 a ticket, Concord technology is not economically viable.


  7. anonymous says:


    I think Airbus has right strategy because most industries veer towards commodification over time and airlines are no exception.

    I am reading an excellent book called “Beyond the Blue Horizon” where the author in the 1980’s retraced the route of the old Imperial Airways flights from London to Australia (it took 3.5 weeks and went via Bahrain). In those days it was all Persian rugs and whicker chairs – a huge 4 engined biplane only took about 20 people each paying an absolutely huge fare. but every night they would touch down and have dinenr and spend the night at a hotel. What a way to travel!

    Where are we now? Commodofied to packing ’em in like so many sardines.

    It was the same as the ocean liners like the Aquitania or Titanic (if the latter had completed its voyge). They made their money on the third or even fourth class passengers who were buying the cheapest tickets possible and NOT on the premium grades which were far too small in number to make a significant cointribution beyond helkping to cover costs.

    So, the airline industry will be mainly transporting vast amounts of people from one hub to another…look at how many people are prepared to come to Bahrain from London VIA Doha because Qatar Airways is so cheap.

    Anyway, if you want a bar on a plane where you can sit and chat, fly Upper class on Virgin Atlantic – i did it over the summer and it was GREAT !

    The Johnster

  8. [deleted]0.95776700 1099323586.392 says:

    Re: Aircruiseliner

    I’m not persuaded that first class passage on the big steamships like the Titanic were less profitable than third class. As I understand it, people like Guggenheim paid the equivalent of $40,000 in today’s bucks for their staterooms on the Titanic while third class immigrants to America paid one tenth of that. A few years back, I saw a Titanic exhibit in Houston that featured mockups of the respective cabins for first and third class. My rough guess is that about ten people in third class bunkbeds took up about the same space as a first class stateroom.

    As a completely unrelated aside, the most eerie exhibit among the personal effects of the dead passengers was the satchel of a perfume salesman. He had been bound for New York with the latest samples of perfume from Paris. They had holes in the side of the glass exhibit case where, when you put your nose to them, you could smell the scent of perfume that had lain on the bottom of the North Atlantic for decades.

    The early airlines were cherry picking the high revenue passengers because their capacity was so small. They could not carry all the people who wanted to fly so they could jack prices up along with service. The economics are the opposite now, with too many airframes chasing too few passengers, depressing air fares.

    The hub system of organizing airlines is doomed because it doesn’t scale down in a sour economy. Hubs are expensive to maintain and only make money in boom times, when there is plenty of passengers to feed them from their spokes. They are an artifact of the regulated airline market, which will not be returning. You can see the moribund arc of hub airlines by looking at the state of all the hub airlines in the US. All of them are in bankruptcy, thinking about filing for bankruptcy, or one step away from bankruptcy. That gives me no pleasure to say because I have room-mates from the Air Force Academy flying for all the trunk carriers. They worked their asses off only to face pay cuts and see their pensions torched.

    The airlines that are consistently profitable are the small point to point companies, like Southwest Airlines and JetBlue. They point to a future where tiny markets for air travel are identified and exploited by small, efficient jets flying direct to their destinations. Those tiny jets are going to pick the bones clean of the jumbo jets.

    I was shocked last year when I was flying American Airlines and flipping through their magazine to find that they did not fly B747s anymore. I hated to see that because I love seeing those babies. My guess is that as they got older (most airplanes are built to fly about 20 years) they became maintenance hogs, burned more fuel than than the new computerized jets, and were too big to fill easily with passengers.


  9. cerebralwaste says:



    Southwest as I understand locked in to low fuel costs about 2 years ago which is about ready to end. So in essence Southwest has been paying about 1/2 the fuel costs of other airlines. When this ends as it will be shortly, it remains to be seen if Southwest will still be competitive. I suspect Jetblue and some other “low cost” airlines did the same thing and those contracts will be ending soon as well. We simply have too many airlines chasing too few passengers. The market will sort itself out as it always does.

  10. anonymous says:


    Hee, hee! And as usual, they’ll just have three toilets for all the passengers. Don’t you just love to stand in line for one after all the dining carts have finally cleared the aisles ,only to find that emerging from the toilet you have been waiting for ,is a huge smelly man who has kindly left sunflower seeds husks and toilet paper for you all over the floor? Ahhh,the thought of those 9 hour Bahrain- Morocco flights on Gulf Air bring back such treasured memories.

  11. anonymous says:

    Re: Aircruiseliner

    That’s only part of their current advantage. (I used to work for Southwest Airlines) Their big advantage is expressed best in their Cost Per Available Seat Mile (CASM), which is about 7 to 8 cents, as compared to the major carriers average of 10 cents or more. That advantage comes from a lot of things: good management of fuel costs, no hubs to maintain, a common airframe for the whole airline, and more.

    The unique thing they’ve done is to build an environment of trust and loyalty to the airline among the employees while paying them below market. That’s a neat trick, but having seen it I can tell you that the folks who work in the headquarters at Love Field act more like they are in a big high school than a corporation. They even wear Southwest Airline letter jackets. I worked there as a contractor. My contract manager told me that SWA wanted to hire a COBOL programmer but would not pay more than $50K. At the time, I knew that good COBOL programmers were getting as much as six figures. So they tend to bottom feed the labor market, sometimes hiring sludge but more often hiring people who prize security over pay. I must admit, it is fun to go to work at SWA.

    Here’s a good article in Slate about it:

    It’s quite a contrast when you go over to American Airlines headquarters by DFW airport. They are basically a New York style corporation who consider their employees as so many widgets to be dumped in bad times and hired as needed. They got such a reputation for abruptly firing software teams when the numbers didn’t work that they began to have a hard time hiring people or getting people to join new software projects that could be axed. They have a lot of shouters and cussers in their management. It’s pretty easy to get stabbed in the back over there.

    I can’t help but believe that the employee culture at American is a significant handicap when it comes to competing with SWA. And the way SWA has configured its assets is much more efficient than AA.


  12. chrisamillion says:

    Re: Aircruiseliner

    One thing which I reckon will cause lots of problems is the lack of ‘on the ground’ facilities for example how can 600+ people collect their luggage from one of those small carrosels (sp?)

    I’m not sure if I like the look of it, I think I still prefer the curves of the Boeing 747. The A380 doesn’t really have anything to make it unique, except that it is big.


    This is one of my favourite pics.

  13. kabourmi says:


    I dunno I hate to say this but it seems to me Boeing’s point to point strategy makes more sense then a colossus that only takes you to a hub and from there you have to make your own way to your final destination, at least that is from a passenger’s point of view.

    However lavishly they fit out the 380 I’d rather take the 787 (Dreamliner) in the morning to Padua and sip an espresso while admiring the bellas that same afternoon, than languish at da Vinci’s intl. waiting for my connection, trying to find my gate, and arriving exhausted only to crash(as in sleep-we have to be careful here!! ) at the hotel.

    A Saudi

  14. anonymous says:

    Re: Aircruiseliner

    Yeah, it touched down in Brisbane, but came to a halt in Sydney =).

  15. [deleted]0.95776700 1099323586.392 says:

    Re: Aircruiseliner

    I’m generally in favor of new jets but I think the restaurant and other silliness on this new Airbus will go the way of the piano bar that new Boeing 747s sported when they were first introduced. There isn’t much of a market for luxury on commercial airliners. Air travellers, especially now with the Internet, buy their seats based on price. That forces the major airlines to strip out anything in their jets that doesn’t carry passengers and produce revenue.

    I have my doubts that giant airliners are economically viable. Just being big limits the airports you can service. Also, a big jet like this can only make a profit on long routes with big traffic. That puts it at a disadvantage with smaller jets that can make a profit on mid to long routes with skinny traffic from any mid-sized airport.

    The trend in the airlines is toward smaller and smaller fuel-efficient jets flying point to point. The future may be small jets, like the MD-80 or smaller, flying point to point in a revolutionary air traffic control system where they fly directly to their destination, deconflicted by computer, rather than be funnelled into jet routes defined by radio beacons. The super jumbo jet is going the way of the Queen Elizabeth.


  16. anonymous says:


    Hello Steve

    At the risk of going off on a massive tangent, your comments about the perfume are fascinating.

    Re the cost of first class travel, the issues to consider are:

    Cost of construction of first class facilities (staterooms, public ares, -both built to a luxurious standard- and staff quarters)
    Maintenance of those facilities
    Staff number per passenger
    Other operating costs including Food & Beverage (and orchestra for that matter!)
    Area in square feet of private quarters per passenger.
    Area in square feet of public areas per passenger

    Once ships get to a certain size, you get an awful lot of interior space especially in rather unattractive interior space or below the waterline, selling thi to steerage was profitable. The question is, of course, if sterage was full of immigrants, what happened to the space on the return trip to Europe. I don’t know fully but often these areas were convertible into other usage eg cargo.


  17. anonymous says:

    Re: Aircruiseliner

    The Titanic exhibit had paper money from the passengers, clothes, jewelry, shoes, even unmailed postcards which had miraculously survived. But that perfume satchel is what I remember. Leather survives well at the ocean bottom. The sea critters don’t like the tannic acid with which it is treated. The satchel was open so that you could see the glass perfume samples, each a different pastel color. They were all stoppered so I don’t know how the scent leaked out. It wasn’t strong, more like the scent of a flower. But unmistakably perfume. Very eerie and unforgettable.

    Looking for price info, I was amazed at the stuff I can find out about the Titanic on sites like the Encyclopedia Titanica.

    Benjamin Guggenheim, a first class passenger, paid 79 pounds, 4 shillings for his ticket. I figure an English pound in 1912 was equivalent to about 100 dollars US today. So his ticket cost about $7900.

    It looks like second class passengers paid around 13 pounds, or $1300. Third class, steerage, passengers paid as little as 7 pounds, $700.

    One Titanic steward’s monthly wage was 3 pounds 15 shillings per month, about $300. Textile workers in Massachussetts got $6 per week in 1912. Ford’s auto workers got $2.34 per day, about $12 per week, before 1914.

    So it looks to me like the extra costs of entertaining the 1st class passengers may have driven down their profitability, but they still made money on them. You may be right that the steerage were the cash cows. They paid about the same dollars per square foot but the steerage had no entertainment costs.


  18. anonymous says:


    I totally agree. The A380 is most probably destined to flop. Other than the flurry of orders in the months immediately following its launch there have been very few other orders. Airbus is still a long way from breakeven and needs to sell a total of 250 just to cover their costs. Factor in the rumor that they sold the 45 planes to Emirates for as low as $150 or $160 million each which is more than $100 million below the list price. If Airbus has truly sold most of A380s at such discounts then actual breakeven might be over 250. And now with Boeing coming up with the 747-8.. I dunno. I honestly don’t think any airlines will go ahead with the luxury version of the A380. It will most likely end up used by charters who will pack 800 to 1000 passengers in one huge economy class configuration.

    I’d love to see the new 747-8 giving the A380 a real challenge. Like someone else said here, the 747 is a beautiful beast. The only airplane with character in its shape other than the Concorde. Wouldn’t it be amazing for this almost 40 year old design to make a come-back?


  19. anonymous says:

    Re: Aircruiseliner

    Much as I like to see it flying, I think the B747 is headed for retirement. They’re still making them, but only in cargo versions. My guess is that it’s easier to create a new jet incorporating all the new computer stuff than to rehabilitate a 40 year old design. As it is, many of the B747s are going to aircraft boneyards in the US. They are stacking up airliners by the hundreds in the Antelope Valley north of Los Angeles in the Mojave Desert. I see a 747 there in the photos. That square hump looks like a new model, too.

    The new B757/B767 and the Airbus have all the aesthetic charm of a tube of biscuit dough, but they fly skinnier loads cheaper, farther, more profitably than the B747.


  20. anonymous says:


    Boeing’s answer to the A380?

    Went to see the A380 at the Paris air show – I really wouldn’t want to fly with 550+ sweaty passengers! – Personally I find the A380 quite ugly – anyone agree?

  21. anonymous says:

    Re(1): Aircruiseliner

    Hmm. Looks like Boeing is still bullish on the B747-8:


  22. [deleted]0.95776700 1099323586.392 says:


    Here is another interesting article about the Boeing vs Airbus fight which points out that the A380 super-jumbo jet is a hub-to-hub airliner while the Boeing 787 is a point-to-point airliner. The A380 is bigger, heavier, and wider than the norm which means that only the newest, biggest airports can handle it. Other airports are widening their runways to accommodate the A380. However, the bulk of the existing airports can not handle the A380. That is a fateful vulnerability that limits it to flying only to hubs. Airlines which rely on hubs are proven to be profitable only in booming economies. That limits its appeal.

    B787 Dreamliner is lighter due to composites and more fuel efficient because its does not bleed air from its engines to run its onboard systems. It can land at any existing mid-sized airport. It does not have to carry as many passengers to break even on a flight. That gives it quite an advantage over the A380. It can fly point-to-point routes and it can fly hubs.

    I’ve flown on Airbuses and found them to be a good ride. I scarcely can tell the difference from the passenger seat between an Airbus and a Boeing. And really, I like the idea of building a giant-super-jumbo with a piano bar and lounge and maybe circus ponies giving rides to the kids, kind of a mall in the sky. But I don’t see where it will be a market leader.

    Bigger and more centralized was yesterday’s future. Smaller and decentralized is today’s future. The A380 has a limited future flying thick routes across continents and oceans. The B787 has a big future flying thin routes everywhere.


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