The pandemic nearly led to the cessation of A380 production earlier than expected in 2021, but it simply refuses to die.
With more of these giant planes returning to the skies after the pandemic, the A380 has regained the spotlight, leading to the establishment of a new airline dedicated to it.
Global Airlines, a British startup aiming to offer transatlantic flights starting next year, acquired a 16-year-old A380 as the inaugural aircraft for its complete A380 fleet and is in the process of customizing it to its specifications.
James Askwith, CEO of Global Airlines, said, “It’s a fantastic aircraft when used correctly. We look forward to investing substantial amounts in refurbishing our existing A380 and future aircraft we intend to introduce to the fleet.” How much did it cost approximately?
“Not all A380 aircraft are the same,” Askwith said when asked why he chose this particular aircraft among those available for sale.
He continued, “We don’t just look at the cabin or interior parts, but we also consider the aircraft’s maintenance, the modernity of the landing equipment, and, most importantly, the engines.”
The exact selling price hasn’t been disclosed, except for the fact that it consists of “8 figures.”
Global Airlines will need to spend more money to refurbish the aircraft, which has already been painted in its new livery, and ensure it is suitable for passenger service.
This means that the final price could easily reach around $50 million, according to Rob Morris, Chief Consultancy at Cirium, an aviation analytics company.
This is still a good deal compared to the price of a brand new A380, which was $450 million in 2018.
Establishing an airline is a commercial endeavor filled with challenges, especially when utilizing an A380 fleet, as the economics of the aircraft have proven to be less than ideal for many operators.
Air France was the first airline to retire its entire fleet in May 2020, with 17 A380 aircraft already being canceled.
Askwith said, “A lot of people wrote about whether the A380 had another life, but the truth is, its only real life was with Emirates.”
He added, “They knew how to use the aircraft immensely. The large aircraft doesn’t necessarily mean a lot of seats. It’s the most you can offer as a product.”
However, Global Airlines will not offer the same features as Emirates’ A380s, such as an excellent economy class, which was recently added to over 60 of their current A380 aircraft.
Instead, Global Airlines will focus on a three-class cabin, including regular economy, business, and first class.
The airline’s headquarters will be located at London Gatwick Airport.
It will primarily operate transatlantic routes with North America, starting from New York and Los Angeles.
There are plans to expand to other cities in the UK as well, which Askwith mentioned are suffering from a severe lack of services, with hopes of launching in spring 2024, with a minimum of two A380 aircraft in operation.
Opportunities for Success
Richard Apolafia, an aviation analyst at AeroDynamic consultancy, said, “Certainly, very small new international airlines have been created before, without examples of their success.”
He added, “If they become well-known, they are easily crushed by the major players. It is much easier for a successful, low-cost domestic carrier to expand into international routes, as JetBlue does.”
However, Askwith seems convinced that the precise combination of factors that make up Global Airlines, from aircraft selection to employees, will contribute to its success.
Despite all the criticism, he feels enthusiastic.
He said, “When I visited every country in the world, everyone, including my parents, told me it was impossible.”
He continued, “I think everyone needs to understand that we are doing this to create jobs, create competition, and get a better product. Why wouldn’t people want that?”