Many more A380s expected to be using Heathrow in coming decades
London Heathrow has said it is expecting the number of A380s to be using the airport to triple to 30 by 2020 as slot constraints impact on the fleet choices being made by its resident airlines. More airlines will use the A380 on existing routes to maximise capacity. Emirates, Malaysia Airlines, Qantas and Singapore currently operate the A380 from Heathrow, with Thai rumoured to be considering a daily Bangkok service in 2013 and BA and Virgin Atlantic receiving their first A380s next year. There are currently the nine A380s operating from Heathrow making over 15,000 flights to and from the airport. Heathrow has the capacity to deal with the 80 metre wingspan. However, though theoretically the A380 can carry about 850 passengers, all in economy class, in effect they are only configured by the airlines to take 407 – 538 depending on the airline. Planes tend to have 8 – 10 first class seats, and 70 – 80 business class or equivalent. So they are not as fuel efficient per passenger as the industry make out. Heathrow has a lot of spare terminal capacity. It could accommodate at least another 20 million passengers a year.
Heathrow A380 fleet set to triple by 2020
London Heathrow has said it is expecting the number of A380s to be operating from its gates to triple to 30 by 2020 as slot constraints at the airport impacts on the fleet choices being made by its resident airlines.
The UK’s only hub airport said that the restrictions imposed on the market by the limited availability of slots was leading more airlines to deploy the larger A380 on existing routes to maximise capacity.
Emirates, Malaysia Airlines, Qantas and Singapore currently operate the A380 out of Heathrow, with Thai rumoured to be considering a daily Bangkok service in 2013 and BA and Virgin Atlantic receiving their first A380s next year.
In October, Malaysian Airlines announced it would upgrade its daily A380 service to London to double daily from November 24.
Since 2008, the nine A380s operating from Heathrow have between them carried more than six million passengers on over 15,000 flights to and from the airport, Heathrow said.
Heathrow has had to undergo extensive remodelling to accommodate the A380s. The plane’s 80m wingspan has meant upgrading the airport’s taxiways and stands to be in line with ICAO safety standards.
Peter Kenworthy, aviation projects director at Mott Macdonald, said the shift to the A380 was due to a number of factors, not least airlines growing preference for ordering the large aircraft for their long-haul operations.
“A number of factors are at work here, a lot of airlines have ordered A380s and airlines that are already operating them are choosing to operate to big hubs like Heathrow and clearly Heathrow is both constrained and an attractive market for the A380,” he said.
“Malaysia and Qantas have already put the aircraft into Heathrow and BA have ordered the aircraft which will benefit their connectivity and their oneworld partners. At the other end of the route, Emirates are clearly putting capacity into their network with the A380 and Qatar have announced their intention to use the aircraft on their routes into Heathrow.”
And while some critics have argued that the increasing use of large aircraft at Heathrow is stifling regional connections, Kenworthy points to examples of new short-haul routes being launched from the gateway.
“BA has been building its slots portfolio with the acquisition of bmi and at this point we are seeing more regional flights from Heathrow because bmi’s network was primarily geared to domestic and short-haul European destinations. In the short-term, BA has launched flights to Leeds Bradford and Rotterdam and is increasing frequencies to Belfast. This is likely to change in the long-term as there is a tendency for slots to shift to long-haul.”
The top ten airports for A380 frequencies:
Heathrow is not full, in terms of the number of passengers it can deal with – though it has restrictions on the number of take off and landing slots. Heathrow has a lot of spare terminal capacity. It could accommodate at least another 20 million passengers a year – from the current 69 million or so. See link . The airport can go on increasing the number of passengers for some time, by using larger planes – as is now happening.
How many passengers do A380s fit in?
The Airbus 380 could theoretically carry 800+ passengers (it has FAA certification for up to 853 passengers in an all-economy class layout) but none of the airlines has or is planning to configure their planes to hold that many. They’re all configured to hold about 550. By comparison, 747-400D’s can be configured to hold 569 passengers,
It’s not the number of seats in an airplane, but the total weight of the passengers, baggage and fuel (plus other stuff). In practice airlines cannot fill up every one of the 800+ possible seats with 250 lb (113 kg) passengers plus their baggage – as well as all the necessary fuel for the trip. The Airbus A-380 can hold some 525 people but it can fluctuate between 500-585. This depends on how the specific airline wishes to model the interior (i.e. amenities, first class, business class, economy, etc.) The 380 will NEVER be an all- economy class aircraft, however. It was designed to be an intercontinental long range carrier/freighter. For long range, it will never be able to cram 850 people into cramped seats for 12 hours.
Info about the A380 at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Airbus_A380
There is information on how the various airlines with A380s have configured them, for different classes of seating. Each has done it a bit differently. Korean Air only has 407 seats, and Singapore Airlines has 409. The most seems to be Air France with 538 seats.
Of these, there tend to be about 8 – 10 first class. About 70 -80 business class, or equivalent. And some 400 or so economy. But these differ greatly. Not more than three-quarters of the seats are economy class. Details at
By comparison, the Boeing 747-400 passenger version can accommodate 416 passengers in a typical three-class layout, 524 passengers in a typical two-class layout. Details at