Today, Qantas will launch its 17-hour daily flight between Perth and London flying a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner. The 14,498km trip is the first non-stop journey linking Australia and Europe.
The fact that the double-decker A380 has been ignored is significant because the whole purpose of the A380—with a range of 15,700km—was to fly hub to hub. Yet Qantas—which has A380s in its fleet—prefers an extended range Dreamliner with a similar range up to 15,750km, but with 20% better fuel economy.
It is a familiar story for Airbus, which has struggled to find willing A380 buyers in recent years but was saved by Emirates Airways’ 36 aircraft order this January.
Relying on Emirates will only keep production going for the medium-term. However, for real survival, Airbus is attempting court Beijing into a joint venture in which A380s could be built in China. The technology transfer is tempting for Beijing’s long-term plans for a domestic aircraft building industry, and China’s congested airports would suit the A380. Regardless, the prospects of any deal are currently speculative.
John is a Senior Analyst with an interest in Indo-Pacific geopolitics. Master of International Relations (Australian National University) graduate with study focus on the Indo-Pacific. Qualified lawyer (University of Auckland, NZ) with experience in post-colonial Pacific & NZ legal systems.