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Airbus may be struggling to secure new orders for the Airbus A380, but International Consolidated Airlines Group (IAG) chief executive officer, Willie Walsh has revealed there could be a place for the aircraft in the fleets of another two of its airline brands.
Speaking at the World Travel Market in London this week, respected airline executive, Willie Walsh, revealed that alongside the operations of the aircraft within the fleet of British Airways (BA), he could also present a business case for the Super Jumbo to fly with Iberia and Aer Lingus.
“We like the aircraft,” he said. “It works extremely well on parts of our BA network. I could also see a couple flying with Iberia and even one with Aer Lingus.”
BA this winter is operating the aircraft on flights from London Heathrow to Hong Kong, Johannesburg, Los Angeles, Miami, San Francisco, Singapore and Washington having grown its fleet to 12 aircraft this year with new deliveries in February 2016 and June 2016.
“If the price was right we would look to add more,” confirmed Walsh. “Airbus offer great aircraft, but not necessarily at great prices,” he quipped.
The executive’s comments followed a massive endorsement for the Super Jumbo from Emirates Airline, the largest customer for the aircraft. The airline’s president, Sir Tim Clark believes that a 500-seater option like the A380 will remain the option to overcome increasing capacity constraints in the global airport system.
“The hubs are getting constrained,” he said. “It is not just London Heathrow but elsewhere such as in Sydney, New York, Los Angeles, Hong Kong and Boston to name a few.”
With orders for 142 A380, 85 of which are already in service, Emirates is pushing for Airbus to develop an upgraded version of the aircraft based on advancements through its neo projects. “I am not sure there is an appetite in Toulouse [the headquarters of Airbus] for the aircraft,” he said, blaming “high-risk adversity” within the boards of airlines for the lack of support for the programme. “They have gone into safe hand decision making,” he added.
The comments from Willie Walsh and Sir Tim Clark were made during an interview session by John Strickland, director of JLS Consulting at the ExCeL centre in east London, when both industry stalwarts also hit out at political decision-making bias, the reported high costs of building a new runway at London Heathrow and shared strong opinions on the evolution of the low-cost, long-haul model, the future of global alliances and how 2016 has been one of the toughest years.