The end of the era of giant passenger planes

With travel restrictions, closures and fewer people flying, the Corona virus epidemic has accelerated the end of operations of giant passenger planes, such as the Boeing 747 and Airbus A380

Thai Airways Airbus A380. Photo Depositphotos

Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun He recently informed the company’s employees that the era of giant aircraft has ended and noted that “in light of the current dynamics and market situation, we will complete the production of the 747 aircraft in 2022.” His remarks mark the culmination of the accelerated decline in the economic viability of the world’s largest passenger planes – the Boeing 747 and Airbus A380 which have been in service only since 2007. The flying giants have not been economical to operate for some time, but the epidemic has made them prematurely obsolete.

As mentioned, jumbo jets and super jumbo jets with four engines became too expensive to operate even before the crisis. Even then it was difficult for airlines to fill enough seats to make a profit. Currently, smaller but much more efficient aircraft, such as the Airbus A350 and Boeing 787 Dreamliner, are the viable economic norm.

A British Airways Boeing 747-400. Company photography

In the aviation industry Distinguish 3 main flight routes:

line (Line) – Between the point of departure and the point of destination there are many stopping points for the purpose of unloading and loading passengers or cargo and renewing equipment. Frequent stops cause a great waste of fuel. Pros: Easy to manage. Disadvantages: High costs in the intermediate parking lots, long waiting times, difficulty in marketing to different target audiences (business people lose money because of the long and time-consuming waiting times).

Network (Grid) – A network where each point represents an origin or destination. The network typically features domestic flights. Advantages: efficient (no waiting), different planes can be used for different sections (short flights with small planes, for example), not all passengers need to be at any point, time savings for the company (not necessarily for the passenger due to delays), reduction in manpower costs, possibility Consumer service and cost savings (seat production cost on a large aircraft is lower than production cost seat on a small aircraft). Disadvantages: Complicated to manage.

Collection port (Hub) – A system where different starting points reach the Hub from which flights depart to different destinations. This expands the number of possible paths and links between distant geographical spaces. For example, flights from different places arrive in Bangkok and from there flights depart for Australia. They also operate a collection port due to cost considerations – aircraft replacement and passenger grouping. Gathering people from nearby geographical locations and flying them to more distant destinations. Advantages: very high efficiency, saving time and costs. Disadvantages: Requires very efficient management because faults can cause many losses due to the need to provide high monetary compensation to injured customers and delays are almost unavoidable because there is a dependence on the weather. Another disadvantage is that the connection time for onward flights may be longer than expected in the case of unplanned cases (non-scheduled).

In the not-so-distant past it was common to fly a lot of passengers on 747s to Hub ports and from them on smaller planes like the Boeing 737, or Airbus A320 on connecting flights to other destinations. Today in all the flight paths we mentioned, the use of the giant planes is inefficient so airlines prefer to use the older Boeing 777 and Boeing 787 planes, or the older Airbus A330 planes and the newer Boeing A350. In the Corona crisis, the first planes to land were Boeing 747s and Airbus A380s, which will probably not be returned to use.

Air France A380 aircraft. PR photo
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