Airbus’ Bregier vows future for A380 with a neo, stretch

Dec. 11, 2014: Fabrice Bregier, CEO of Airbus Commercial, Thursday vowed there is a solid future for the A380, a day ofter Airbus Group CFO Harald Wilhelm cast doubt over the airplane.

“We have commercial momentum on A380, we will get additional customers. We have to get more customers, and convince them there is much more upside than downside to the A380. We are reducing the recurring costs. Longer term this aircraft has stronger potential. We will one day launch an A380neo and one day launch a stretched A380,” Bregier said on Day 2 of the Airbus Investors Days.

John Leahy, COO-customers, gave spirited support for the A380 in his remarks immediately following Bregier. “We’re negotiating incremental orders,” he said, with four campaigns. Leahy continued to pound the theme he’s promoted for years: that airports like London Heathrow, Tokyo Narita and elsewhere will require larger airplanes as traffic doubles every 15 years.

While airlines that have analyzed the economics of the A380 vs the 777-9 (and our own analysis) conclude that seat-mile costs will be equal, Leahy said the A380 has 8% better costs; he did not detail the assumptions.

On other topics:

  • Leahy said Airbus sees a potential market for the A321neoLR at 400. The slide show also used this name, the first time Airbus has used this name; yesterday it referred to the sub-type at the A321neoER.
  • Airbus is looking at a nine-abreast A330 while retaining an 18-inch wide seat by carving out the interior a bit.
  • Leahy predicts Airbus will maintain a 60% market share of the single-aisle sector and 50-50 of the medium twin-aisle sector. Boeing’s domination of this sector this year is the result of a one-time surge of 200 777X orders announced in 2013 but booked this year; and a one-time cancellation of 70 A350s by Emirates Airlines.
  • Bregier’s slides confirmed that Airbus is planning a ramp-up beyond 10/mo for the A350, something we reported some time ago. Bregier’s slide didn’t disclose a number; we reported 13/mo from 2018.
  • Leahy said he isn’t convinced a stretch of the A350-1000 is needed, claiming Boeing created the 777-9 with 35 more seats because this is the only way the “economics work,” not because of any studies that indicated the market demanded this size.


62 Comments on “Airbus’ Bregier vows future for A380 with a neo, stretch

  1. Going by the observed fact that the first information on a select topic has the best retention death of the A380 now is a “known fact”.
    Wonder if the infobits ordering is tactic, dumbness or hybris.
    I don’t have enough valor to include a “move of brilliance” in the enumeration.
    A last resort would be most carefully crafted misrepresentation of what Wilhelm said?

  2. Hello Scott
    Hello Bjorn

    9 abreast in A330 with “carving” can help for a couple of 1/10th inch, not the 1.5 inch that is missing per seat (except using those staggered eco seat from thompson solutions)
    Those seats can also provide the same sort of gains on the A350 10 abreast that as not sold a lot due to even narrower seats…
    9 Abreast @18 in AND with 2″ armest is only possible on a 220in wide cross section : ie the A350 !

    Currently with 2″ armrest A330 is 16.5″ @9 abreast with a tiny 16.5″ aisle
    Currently with 2″ armrest A350 is more 16.3″ @9 abreast 🙁

    Anyway that’s a good news, specially for the Regional variant or Low cost.
    And surprising it doesn’t come with the NEO. Can we assume it will come with the CEO ?

    • have those staggered seats not been certified or do they fail the customer acceptance test?

      it seems to me this would be something boeing and 737 operators would be all over as it effectively negates the major customer facing differentiator between the 737 and A320…

  3. Uwe, bad news on the A380 ensure clicks & hits. A380 good news is destined to always be accompanied by critical flash backs & nuances.
    Yesterday no-one mentioned it has a 5 backlog..

    “A330 while retaining an 18-inch wide seat”

    I wonder how wide the aisle will become.. The aisle seats will suffer while trolleys/ passengers bump into your shoulders.

    It will do magic for the typical marketing efficiency comparisons though. Randy will for the A330 include a 12% fuel burn reduction from the new engines and add a significant cost per seat reduction because of ~10 % more seats in the same airframe 😉

    • said 5 year backlog is not at the rate it was designed to reach (you can do that with a mature and paid for program, you can’t do that with a new one that never has reached is pay back and never will ) that rate was predicated on the economics of building that many to make the program meet its (so called) financial goals.

      Like most aviation enthusiasts , I am impressed by the aircraft, I continue to believe it was launched on fluff and spin so Airbus could claim to be a real aircraft company of Boeings magnitude.

      they were before the A380 regardless of how they got there with more than competitive products.

      The septic’s simply continue to believe there never was a business case in this day and age for the A380. From Scotts remarks he looks to believe the same and the investor community at large looks to support that.

      And its not that its not lost money at this point, its how much more to you pour into it and continue to loose more money?

      Other programs need that money. To continue to eeek it on will wind up like Boeing.

      • Do you think that you can fool anyone with that “aviation enthusiast” and “impressed by the aircraft” bs and claim some credibility for your bashing? It’s patently obvious you cannot stand what the A380 has done to your beloved 747.

    • Keesje,

      Dude, your flood of posts jumping in to defend Airbus and the A380 paints you as a person who has either
      a) a deep emotional attachment to the company and/or plane; or
      b) a financial interest.

      We get it.. you have to defend at al cost. We know that Bregier and the CFO had a little chat, and spun up the PR machine. It isn’t a conspiracy against Airbus, but the CFO was saying things to investors about possible (and quite rightly, credible) internal Airbus discussions about the future of the jet. Of course a news outlet will report what he said, given the A380’s status in the airline industry.

      I don’t think they’ll shut it down, not with Tim Clark all over them like a cheap suit….and the fact he’s bet Emirates’ future to the plane

      • “Dude, your flood of posts jumping in to defend Airbus and the A380 paints you as a person who has either a) a deep emotional attachment to the company and/or plane”

        Your appeal to ridicule, or reductio ad ridiculum, is an informal fallacy. In this case your appeal to ridicule is clumsily misplaced, which btw, is often a sign of desperation. It reflects poorly on the sender, not the addressee.

        Now, it would be interesting to know the reasons for why the A380 seemingly ticks so many people off. It’s a phenomenen that has never been seen in the industry before the advent of the A380. Wouldn’t you agree, though, that it’s not really rational to cater to such ill feelings that are directed towards a non-living entity?

  4. a350 will have to b widened to 10 abreast otherwise will b caniballized by 9 abreast a330…..side wall thickness of a330 n a350 are more than 14 inchs where as 787’s is 11″ n 777x is 9″….more than 5 can b gained…..boeing standard 17″ seats seem plausable not 18″…it ll b a nightmare for boeing…as for a380 airbus needs a lot luck n exceptional marketing to make it work!

  5. Interesting, can this be considered as a commitment to launch a A380-neo? Any ideas on time-lines, considering capacity of engineering resources?

    If launch is sooner than later, imagine if the A350 delay is related to it.. Launch includes commitments from Emirates (convert existing orders), Qatar, and a new order of A350-1000 from Emirates with the same ‘neo’ engine.

  6. The A380 might prevail over the long term if market growth keeps the same rate and if a neo is offered in due time. But Airbus will never recoup its investment, that’s for sure.

    I remembre the time when the 787 was marketed against the A380, like if these two very different aircraft were actually competing against each other. But the only thing they have in common is that they are both financial disasters and each was originally launched with unprecedented hubris, except maybe for the infamous Comet.

    • While I agree that the 787 and the A380 are vastly different market segments and the press did indeed play it all up (stupid people).

      The 787 segment had a business case and the orders support it.

      Where it failed was how they went about it.

      The 787 may some day become profitable.

      The A380 never had a business case or will be profitable.

    • If stats prove right over 40 years and 8 versions of the B 747 a great aeroplane of its day the total sales are 1538
      If the A 380 goes on for 40 years and has 8 variants how many sales would you suggest

      The A 380 will be here 40 years from now with babe 5 or 6 versions and perhaps 2500 + sales you just have to rcognise as Boeing did 40 years ago you are ahead of your time

      World traffic will eventually demand the aircraft


      • The comparison with the 747 is an obvious one to make. But the situation has changed with the introduction of the 777. To improve the prospects of the A380 Airbus would have to make it substantially more economical than the 777X. Hence, the necessity to build the neo in response to it. Otherwise the sales will stall.

        But over and above the economics it is also a question of prestige. For example, Boeing knew that the 747-8 would never be able to compete adequately, but they chose to do it anyway for the prestige of the company and to protect the immense reputation of the venerable 747.

        Airbus is in the same position. It has to continue to sink money into the programme in order to protect its flagship product. But to keep this venture viable, future market growth would need to be sustained at the current level. If oil prices continue to decline this could keep the world economy going for a while. And that’s exactly what the A380 needs right now.

        • The decision to develop the 747-8 can be at least justified by the necessity to continue the production line at Everett. Even if Airbus is bleeding money on its A380, it can’t afford to discontinue to program. The company invested so much in the production line for this new aircraft. If the direct and indirect costs of the A380 program cancellation is larger than the actual cost, it is justified to continue the program.

  7. I suppose what can be inferred with Airbus going forward is a closer than ever relationship with RR. Expert analysis seems to concur that the RR Trents planned for the A330NEO will be a relatively simple extension for an A380NEO. It is likely that RR could be the only A380NEO engine supplier.
    This is also the first time I have heard that an Airbus official use the term A380NEO in a positive sense. If true and if it is done by 2020 – then the competition against the B777-9 will come from 2 directions. The A350-1000 and the A380NEO.

  8. Harald Wilhelm doesn’t get the politics thing. The status quo is perfectly fine until we decide it isn’t. The A380? Great plane with wonderful prospects. A stretched A350-1000? Absolutely no need!

    And tomorrow after we have done the 180 degree turn? The A350-1100 is the right-sized plane that crying out for. We have been planning it for years.

    • I wonder how long it would take for a stretched A350-1100 to see the light of day? Are we talking mid 2020’s or further out?

      • Depends on what kind of stretch.
        Simple range for capacity on short notice I’d guess: 2020 ?
        Keep range with increased capacity 2 years later ?

        If Airbus has a well working method to adjust material thickness per item ( like bespoke frames manufactured on this absolute interesting machine announced some time ago .. )

        • Not mad about Delta at all. Just very surprised. No matter…..they’ll still continue to devalue frequent flyer miles, Richard Anderson will continue to say things he doesn’t mean, and water will still be wet…….Mate…

  9. Backlog 100-150,4year development period.with possible rate cut,I reckon that they have 1year to decide.even then,why announce that you are going to jack it in?they are just waiting to see what happens.this is not a ringing endorsement.11abreast not a good idea,can you imagine 2 not necessarily cooperative people either side of you on a narrow seat for several hours?i’m getting a panic attack just thinking about it.i think any airline trying this will be surprised by how quickly this ruins the reputation of both the airline and the plane.

    • Nine abreast with a 2-5-2 seating configuration used to be the norm on the DC-10, L-1011 and initial 777. The middle seat in a 3-5-3 seating configuration would only be occupied at load factors well over 90 percent (i.e. not including the ouboard seat triplets). Hence, I’m not sure if this is just yet another A380 non-issue that for some specific reason is being turned into a “real-issue”. Now, I believe one reason for EK not presently being interested in the 11 abreast option, is that the additional luggage allowance for 34 and 38 passengers — depending on the EK A380 Version — would further curtail into the available space that’s available for freight containers on the lower deck (i.e. additional passenger load equivalent to an average of about 1.5 extra LD3 container).

  10. “Leahy said Airbus sees a potential market for the A321neoLR at 400. The slide show also used this name, the first time Airbus has used this name; yesterday it referred to the sub-type at the A321neoER.”

    – Does Airbus still not have an official designation for this type?

    On the other hand, it’s nice to see them use an (informal?) designation invented first by leeham. 😀

  11. I think the idea of an A389 with folding wingtips and new engines has some traction. Mostly it boils down to how the economics compare to flying two A359s. Can an aluminum tube and wings compete with CFRP? Then again, there is only so much space at LAX, so in that sense, the A380 seems like it has a solid niche well into the future.

    • Anyone that believes Airbus will re-design the A380 wing is living in some kind of computer fantasy world (minor tweaks aside)

      What they don’t get is its huge investment to do that. Its not a computer game where you “click” and option and its done, this is real world economics and ramifications.

      My take is that they need to make the A380 into a Bi-Plane. Take a A350 wing and using a two bay design (you get that great composite wind for no cost). Of course you have to slow it down to compensate for the drag, but darn it, you get a lot more lift, go straight for the A380-1000 and take full advantage of the mod!

      • I like the bi-plane idea.

        If the A380 wing isn’t improved in some way, those wing fences will look like a rotary phone in 2020.

      • Anyone who believes that Airbus can make the A380 into a Bi-plane by taking an A350 wing and using a “two bay design” — whatever that’s supposed to mean — or re-making it as a Prandtl-Plane*, seems to be living is in some kind of computer fantasy world. 😉

        Now, Airbus is not using the Boeing deferred production cost methodology, but rather a programme accounting technique where most of the R&D expenses for the A380 have already been sunk. Hence, the business case for different options for an evolved A380 should should not be burdened by what’s already been spent, but the future potential sales volume, which IMJ is going to be much larger for an evolved A380 family vs. a purely re-engined derivative.

        Now, an A380-800neo programme would at least garner 140 orders** in addition to likely re-orders from current customers. If Airbus would undertake a significant upgrade programme to the aerofoil, fuel consumption of the A380-800 can be decreased by a further 10-15 percent over that of a pure re-engining “neo” programme; game-changing, indeed! Now, do note that we’re not even talking about 11 abreast nor a stretched Version.

        As for costs, one should keep in mind that the most expensive parts of a wing (i.e. the movable surfaces on the trailing and leading edges), would largely remain unmodified. Hence, we’re not talking about a 777X level of investment, and where the wing is all new.



        Clark said that if the two companies went ahead with the upgrade Emirates would eventually replace all the 140 superjumbos it has ordered with the newly upgraded version.

        • You can’t cherry pick wing work other than miner tweaks (A320/330NEO)

          Once you make one change the whole wing gets affected. What you have proposed in various guises is an entirely new wing.

          Lack of that engineering understanding is what leads to people thinking they can design an aircraft.

          I have some idea of what it takes and is involved and stay away from that (unless I am being really silly per the bi-plane.

          perhaps Scott could come up with a FAL area (Fantasy Aircraft League). I also don’t do FFL (Fantasy Football League which is based on nothing real) but there are those who get excited about it.

          • Yes, I’m proposing new wing covers and spars having exactly the same dimensions as the current ones. Changing CFRP structure with aluminium structure has already been done on the A380. For example, both the 787 and A350 have metallic wing ribs, while the A380 wings initially had 23 CFRP ribs. Due to the cracks that developed on the aluminium wing-rib feet that fasten the skin panels to the internal CFRP wing ribs, all the 49 ribs on each wing are now made entirely of aluminium*.

            In fact, both the 787 and A350 are fastener-intensive “black aluminum” aircraft where the CFRP components have been “converted” from aluminum more , or less as a 1:1 replacement for the metal. The result is typically a structure that, although it weighs less than the equivalent aluminum structure, is overengineered and is, therefore, still heavier than necessary. What I’m proposing is to do the same thing to the existing A380 inner and outer wing box. Also, keep in mind that while the existing A380 centre wing box is a hybrid CFRP/aluminium structure, Boeing will not use composites at all in the centre wing box of the all new wing of the 777X**. Furthermore, since I’m not proposing any dimensional changes to the A380 wing, there’s no need to design new droop-noses, slat sections, flaps and ailerons. On the 777X the engine is moved further outboard in respect to the engine wing position on the current 777, in addition to the wing geometry of the wing being entirely different. Hence, the reason for why Boeing can’t re-use any parts from the movable sections on the current 777 wing: Page 10 and 11 in this link:


            *Wing spars are both metallic and composite, with 23 of the 49 ribs being made from CFRP for cost and weight reasons. Metallic ribs are used in highly loaded areas such as fuel tank boundaries, pylon and gear support, while a large part of the inboard ribs are also metallic for crashworthiness reasons.


            **One of the main structural decisions related to the wing was whether to make the entire wing, including the center wing box (Section 11) that runs through the fuselage, from composite or to stay with aluminum. Although the former offered additional weight savings, the potential integration issues tipped the balance in favor of a conventional structure.


          • Alu wingbox for the 777x.

            My tentative guess is that this bows to grandfathering limitations.

  12. So what was going on with Airbus on the Investors Days? A complete marketing desaster with the temporary loss of billions in company value or just a bluff to stir up attention?I just don´t get it!

  13. A330neo: need clarification of “carving out the interior a bit”

    Is this the frame scalloping that Airbus tried on the pre-XWB A350 about ten years ago (when it had an aluminum fuselage)?

    Who made the comment?

    • Leahy made the comment and we presume it’s along the lines of what Boeing is doing on 777X, but he wasn’t specific.

  14. When does LH cancel the 777x and switch those to ten more A380 and ten more 748? The 777x is a misery whip at ten abreast, and is a stop gap measure until a wider CFRP fuselage is developed.

    • I seem to remember a couple of days ago a short news item on the radio talking about LH management wanting to collect capital for fleet expansion (~.5B€?) but the supervisory board stopped that. Can’t find a web reference for this.

    • And said new CFRP fuselage design is where and when?

      Same reason that the NSA is up in the air (figuratively though not current literally unfortunately ). You pay a price for large diameter fuselage (cost to build and efficiency _) and the economics bite you (real world)

      You can make a mini twin NSA, but you loose 4% efficiency (or go slower). That has to be made up in better ground ops that has not been proven.

      Large diameter twins work (and quads) because of the distances flown)

      This is not done for passenger comfort, its done for business reasons. Make it wide enough and they cram in another seat. make it wide enough to space out width but not add a seat and your completion eats your lunch on the economics.

      • Everett in 2025, the next iteration will be the 777Y, using a new 243″ interior diam. CFRP fuselage with the 777x wings.

        • Back to reality. You can park various length aircraft on the same wing (current and future 777)

          Once you change the fuselage diameter the whole thing changes as well.

          , apply for a job there and let us know how that works out and good luck.

  15. A380 Clarification:

    I do want to clear the VLA issue.

    I also think Boeing screwed up on the 747-8. As much as I love the looks of the Freighter, it was a huge mistake.

    Scott maybe can weight in on the cost (I don’ remember seeing figures) but I doubt it will break even let alone a return. as its gone by 2018.

    I am not sure if they might not have had a case with better range, but it was still iffy and only came out to counter the A380.

    • The more I read the more I am beginning to see the sceptics point about the a380. The Biplane idea (or diamond wing)actually sounds like the only way to get the required aspect ratio.the idea of folding wing tips in flight seems a bit too exciting.

      • I think this idea from OV-099 was to have the wingtips fold on the taxiway.

        ” The current aluminium wing ribs would be retained, albeit slightly modified to accommodate the new composite hardware. The leading and trailing edge would remain the same. This “new” and significantly lighter wing should, in addition, have two 7.5m folding wing tips, which would increase the wing span to 95m. The aspect ratio of the current wing is 7.53, while for the “new” one it would be around 10.2; or just slightly lower than the aspect ratio of the 777X wing.”

        Can some runways be adapted to 95m wingspan?

      • As for the fodling wingtip on the 777X; when and where to extend/fold it is illustrated in the preliminary 777X airport compatibility manual (page 13).

        Same conceptual idea for a next generation A380 having a 95m wingspan and two 7.5m folding wingtips.

        Furthermore, since the wingtips are extended/folded only in the vicinity of the runway, would mean that the most important metric for would be the distance between the runway and taxiways.

        ICAO Code E (65m wingspan) and Code F (80m wingspan) require that the minimum distance between the taxiway centre line and runway centre line are, respectively, 182.5m and 190m. A 95m wingspan would probably not require muchmore than 195m, minimum, of separation between the taxiway centre line and runway centre line.

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  17. Perhaps a “refusalaged” “777Y” using the 777X CFRP wing with EIS in the second half of 2020s is reasonable and doable. The 777X retains the metal wingbox of the 777 and attaches the new wings to it (easier/cheaper than incorporating a new cfrp wingbox into the metal fusalage). Why would a new CFRP fusalage/wingbox with slightly larger (6″ or so) OD not accept these same wings. In the same time frame there will be a new generation of engines (such as RRs geared variable pitch 15/1 bypass proposal or a similar product from GE) available. Together this would make for another generational efficiency jump

  18. Light bulb moment. Insight into airline management logic.
    Very narrow seats with no leg room only allow skinny short people to fly. Skinny short people weigh much less than tall fat people/passengers, and their smaller clothes in baggage weigh less, too.
    So only desirable (light) passengers can stand to fly, so more passengers per plane so…. Profits go up!!
    Hey. Let’s breed skinny midgets to keep current execs in management positions!
    (Just a little humor (?) here, folks. Move along….)

    • It seems to me that if Emirates were to commit to 140
      NEOs (with no conversions of existing orders) in a binding contract that meant they had to take them, come what may, and the neo-isation costs could be kept low, then Airbus would be sorely tempted and they could well pick up a few orders from other carriers.

  19. I have been thinking along the same lines. I really can’t imagine the A380 to be discontinued in a few years, even if it is a no moneymaking project. I firmly believe the A380 have more value than the strict econominal program value for Airbus. It is a flagship, something to be proud of, something that makes all emplyees feeling more proud. And it has its niche in the market. Discontinuing the A380 make Airbus hand over most or all of the largest twin aisle market to Boeing. That is a loss for Airbus and a gain for Boeing which ultimately will give Boeing an (larger) advantage over Airbus in this segment particularly.

    And it will throw Emirates business model in disarray. So I feel a huge order by Emirates for an A380-(900)neo is one solution to Airbus dilemma in this case. One thing is for sure, an A380neo with new engines AND a significant wing tip extension will be a killer airplane in fuel efficiency, far surpassing any conceivable competitor until at least 2030, and an A380-900 even more so.

    Further more I believe the airplane has it’s time ahead of it. With more congestion and ever more airtravel, especially to/from large airports(hubs) I believe the upside in the future for the airlines to use an A380 is significant larger than the potential downside. So I feel it is a significant risk for Airbus to discontinue the A380 also, if the development in air travel causes ever more congestion in the future and consequently more demand for the largest airplanes, then Airbus will have lost a potential significant profit making product for the short term saving of say a couple Billion euros in upgrading costs. And how far does a couple billion reach when you are to develop an all new airplane? Not far, that is for sure. So I firmly believe spending those few billions is a cheap way to ensure Airbus have the A380 to offer in the future. And with a large order from say Emirates, a large part or most of that cost would anyway be recouped.

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