United Airlines CFO: Airbus A380 superjumbo 'doesn't work' for us

Airbus A380 First flightPascal Le Segretain/GettyAirbus A380 maiden flight.

As Airbus continues its search for new A380 customers, one carrier that won’t be joining the select club of superjumbo owners is United Airlines.

In an interview with Flightglobal’s Edward Russell last week, United Airlines CFO John Rainey said that the mammoth Airbus jet simply “doesn’t work” for the airline’s network.

Instead of the A380, United has concentrated its resources on cheaper and smaller widebody jets, such as the Boeing 787 Dreamliner and Airbus’ own A350XWB.

According to the airline executive, the A380’s higher trip costs make the plane less competitive against smaller rivals like the Dreamliner.

This is despite the fact that the superjumbo returns similar per-seat costs as the smaller jets.

The A380 may offer great value to those who are looking to move massive amounts of people to and from their global hubs, carriers such as Emirates, Singapore, and Etihad.

But for United, the preference is to offer as many flights as possible throughout the day.

“[Instead of] one flight a day and fill up an A380, we’d rather serve [a market] with a couple widebodies if the demand was there because business passengers certainly like that,” Rainey told Flightglobal.

According to Rainey, high frequency is the name of the game for important money-making routes, such as New York to London.

United’s long-haul fleet is currently one the world’s largest operators of the Boeing 777 and will depend on the Boeing Dreamliner and the Airbus XWB for the bulk of its future operations.

Airbus is in middle of a sales push for the A380. The double-decker airliner is currently used by a dozen or so carriers around the world, but the manufacturer has struggled to find new customers willing to take on the aircraft.

Of the 317 A380s ever ordered, 140 of them have been ordered by Emirates.

And of the 154 aircraft that have actually been delivered, 58 have gone to the Dubai-based carrier.

In fact, Airbus hasn’t sold an A380 to an airline in two years, and the none 20 of the superjumbos ordered by leasing coming Amedeo in 2014 have found homes.

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