Airbus SE’s A380 superjumbo faces the ignominy of being broken up for spare parts if second-hand operators for the oldest jets can’t be found in coming months, Bloomberg reports.
The double-deckers could be “parted out” to recover engines and other spares worth at least US$100 million per plane, according to German fund manager Dr. Peters, which owns four A380s due to be returned between October and June by Singapore Airlines Ltd. following the expiry of 10-year lease deals.
At the same time, talks are continuing with six potential operators of the jets, including an Asian low-cost airline that would fly them in a 700-seat single-class layout, chief executive Anselm Gehling said in an interview. Prospective users also include carriers in the U.S., which has so far eschewed the model, and Europe, where British Airways owner IAG SA is continuing to evaluate deploying used A380s at airlines within the group, he said.
“Our main goal is to find new lessees,” Gehling said. “We’re also willing to sell the aircraft as some airlines told us they’d prefer that. Still, there are hardly any spare parts around when it comes to engines for A380s, so it may make sense to do a part-out for the first one or two aircraft returning.”
Airbus struck an order blank on selling new A380s last year and has offered to revamp the model with fuel-saving winglets and 80 extra seats on top of the standard 550 to improve its appeal. Boeing Co. last month dropped the very large aircraft category from its 20-year forecast, saying it sees no long-term future for either the Airbus plane or its own 747.
Parting out can be a lucrative option even for relatively young planes, with components — especially turbine elements — carefully managed in the aftermarket. Original lease terms on the A380s require that they be returned with engines, landing gear and auxiliary power units effectively as new.
With the Singapore planes the first to be sent back there’s also no established second-hand market for the A380. Malaysia Airlines Bhd. has sought to find buyers for six younger examples deemed surplus to its requirements and after failing to do so aims to use them to form a fleet dedicated to transporting Muslim travelers on the annual Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca. Amedeo has also yet to find operators for 20 superjumbos it has agreed to buy.
An Airbus spokesman said that the Toulouse, France-based manufacturer remains confident in the market for second-hand A380s. It added that used planes will present a growth opportunity for new entrants and operators with different business models, as well as for major carriers that already have the plane in their fleet, or are considering adding it.
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