Airbus hits 10,000 deliveries, but where do they all fly?

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With the handover last week of an A350-900 to Singapore Airlines it underscored the company’s growth that has transformed a European upstart in the 1970s to a global performer now offering a modern and comprehensive product line ranging from 100 to more than 600 seats.

On October 14, 2016, Airbus hit an important milestone in its development as it delivered its 10,000th airliner – a four-decade-long process that spans from the A300 through the A310, A320 Family, A330, A340, A350 and A380 and will continue into the future with its neo and new aircraft programmes.

With the handover of an A350-900 to Singapore Airlines it underscored the company’s growth that has transformed a European upstart in the 1970s to a global performer now offering a modern and comprehensive product line ranging from 100 to more than 600 seats.

From the handover of the first production A300B2 to Air France on May 10, 1974, the global Airbus fleet has performed more than 110 million total flights and flown some 215 billion kilometres (enough distance to travel from the Earth to the Sun some 1,500 times). Airbus aircraft have carried over 12 billion passengers in commercial service – a figure representing approximately twice the world’s population.

The manufacturer also holds the record for the longest-ever regularly scheduled non-stop passenger service: a 15,000-plus-km fight between Singapore’s Changi Airport and Newark Liberty International flown by Singapore Airlines. The A350 XWB is ready to follow in these footsteps with the A350-900 Ultra-Long Range version, which Singapore Airlines has selected to resume service from Singapore to the New York area.

Deliveries of Airbus aircraft have been received by customers in all regions of the world – led by the Asia-Pacific and followed by Europe, North America, Latin America and the Caribbean, the Middle East and Africa, along with handovers to lessors, government and private jet operators. This growing global network is driving the company’s increase in production output – highlighted by the fact that Airbus’ 10,000th delivery is occurring just over a year and half after its 9,000th handover.

At current production rates, Airbus expects to deliver its 20,000th aircraft in approximately a decade – taking about one fourth of the time to produce its second 10,000 jetliners as compared to the first 10,000.

“Our desire to further transform the industry is undiminished,” said Didier Evrard, executive vice president – head of programmes, Airbus. “We will continue to improve environmental performance, reduce noise, develop new services and enhance operational capabilities. We’ll strive to stay at the forefront when it comes to connected aircraft, passenger comfort, and adopting disruptive technologies.”

Airbus 10000 Delivery

The milestone 10,000th Airbus delivery was a sixth A350-900 for Singapore Airlines, out of a total order for 67. Featuring a special “10,000th Airbus” logo, the aircraft will be used to launch the airline’s new non-stop services between Singapore and San Francisco at the end of this month.

Airbus has recorded over 16,700 orders for its various models and its aircraft are flying today with more than 400 airlines worldwide. The company’s backlog of 6,700 aircraft on order for future represents some ten years of full production at current rates. But, where are all of its aircraft flying.

Using data from OAG Schedules Analyser for the Airbus milestone delivery day, Routesonline looks more closely at the operation of the manufacturer’s equipment across the globe, highlighting the largest operators and main markets by capacity.

Aircraft Type

Departures

Seats

A300

31

7,234

A310

51

10,730

A320 Family

30,840

5,040,767

A330

2,584

725,635

A340

269

77,292

A350

88

25,819

A380

303

150,959

On this single day there were 34,166 flights using Airbus equipment offering 6,038,436 seats, according to the data, including four scheduled flights with the original A300B2 and B4 variants that started the Airbus journey back in the 1970s.

Iran Air is one of the remaining users of the type due to the sanctions that have impacted Iran and still uses a 1980 vintage example – one of the first 100 aircraft to be delivered by the manufacturer. On the milestone day these older aircraft were deployed on domestic flights linking Tehran’s Imam Khomeini International with Isfahan and Mashhad.

The manufacturer’s success in the short-haul market versus the Boeing 737 – the most successful single aircraft programme in aviation history – is clear to see with the Airbus A320 Family accounting for a 90.3 percent share of departures and 83.5 percent share of capacity.

The A320 is the most widely variant with around three times as many flights as the smaller A319 and larger A321. The smallest member of the family, the A318, accounts for just 0.7 percent of A320 Family departures with operations with just five airlines.

The success of the efficient twin-engine A330 and versatility in serving both medium- and long-haul city pairs means the type operated over 2,500 flights on October 14, 2016 with service with 95 different airlines, while the A380 operated over 300 flights, half of them by Emirates Airline, offering over 150,000 seats.

The success of Airbus models across a variety of missions is clear when you examine the largest operators of its equipment on October 14, 2016. The top ten includes a mix of low-cost and legacy national airlines using short-haul models and airlines from across different parts of the globe using widebodied jets.

Over the 24 hour analysis period, European carrier easyJet operated the most flights with Airbus equipment (1,577; 4.6 percent of total departures) ahead of American Airlines (1,432), China Eastern Airlines (1,351), China Southern Airlines (1,095) and Lufthansa (1,025). In total, 260 different airlines made use of Airbus equipment on scheduled flights during the milestone day.

When you examine the data by seat capacity, the top ten also included Indian LCC IndiGo, European flag carriers Air France and Turkish Airlines, Asian giant Air China and Brazil’s TAM Airlines – when you also include the operations of LAN Airlines and consider LATAM Airlines data the latter was actually the fourth largest user of Airbus equipment on that single day.

A closer look at the markets Airbus equipment was being utilised on during October 14, 2016 shows that the developed Europe market dominated, although China is clearly emerging as a developing market for the manufacturer’s equipment.

Buoyed mainly by the use of short-haul equipment from hub operators, London Heathrow (454 departures), Istanbul Ataturk (429), Frankfurt (417) and Paris Charles de Gaulle (416) lead the way, but the next four positions were held by airports within Greater China: Beijing Capital (409), Shanghai Pudong (406), Chengdu Shuangliu (339) and Hong Kong International (38).

When you examine the data by seat capacity, it is Beijing’s Capital International Airport that had the most Airbus capacity on the milestone day with 85,236 departure seats and heavily influenced by the use of widebodied equipment and larger variants of the A320 Family. The airport was just ahead of London Heathrow with 83,970 departure seats where A319 and A320 operations dominated.