FT article on merits of large planes and hubs cf. smaller point-to-point aircraft

An article in the Financial Times by John Gapper says with its sale of composite, fuel-efficient A350 jets to Japan Airlines this week, Airbus entered a market that Boeing has, until now, controlled. It also proved Boeing’s point. The era of the grand aviation project, symbolised by Airbus’s decision more than a decade ago to build the A380 as a superjumbo rival to the Boeing 747, is over. Airlines do not want jumbos. They want midsized aircraft that are cheap to fly and easy to deploy – as the Boeing 787 will be if the company can stop its lithium-ion batteries catching fire.  He says airlines such as JAL and Lufthansa are getting rid of their fuel-inefficient 747 fleets and buying more flexible A350s and 787s. Also that Airbus is never likely to recoup the A380’s huge development costs and struggles to get the 30 orders a year it needs to make a small profit. He says future changes in aircraft sizes and fuel efficiency could have a significant impact on patterns of travel, and the balance between hubs and smaller airports. More smaller planes on point to point trips, rather than huge hubs.

Full FT article at http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/54769d48-3026-11e3-9eec-00144feab7de.html?siteedition=uk#axzz2hJ65CrkO

The fast-approaching end of the jumbo jet era

By John Gapper


Airlines now want midsized aircraft that are cheap to fly and easy to deploy


Sir Howard Davies, chairman of the Airports Commission, a body set up by the UK government to put off a decision about airport expansion until after the 2015 general election, says that “some additional runway capacity” will be needed over coming decades in the southeast of England. He is right, but “some capacity” does not mean Dubai-on-Sea.

The sorts of aircraft now in heavy demand from Boeing and Airbus can be flown from hubs, but they can equally be used to operate point-to-point flights between cities.

There are about 25 flights a day from Heathrow to New York, for example. These could be disrupted by a low-cost carrier such as Ryanair or Norwegian Air Shuttleflying 787s or A350s from Gatwick or Stansted, drawing passengers from Heathrow. If such a change occurred in the middle of building over Heathrow and constructing a superhub, planners would look stupid.



 Full FT article at http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/54769d48-3026-11e3-9eec-00144feab7de.html?siteedition=uk#axzz2hJ65CrkO