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Korean Airlines (KAL) is the latest carrier finding the A380 too large for its needs.
According to a report on Airlive.net KAL’s first A380 will be withdrawn from service next year for storage until a buyer can be found.
Of all the A380 operators KAL’s A380s have the lowest number of seats. Each of its A380 accommodates a little over 400 passengers which is more than 200 seats less that one of Emirates’ two-class A380s. In fact that’s even less than one of Air Canada’s B777-300ERs which accommodate no fewer than 450 passengers in a thee-class layout.
A380 requires the maximum use of seats to provide the lowest pax seat mile cost and to be efficient.
Operating below 500 seats is not practical unless you have very popular routes and Korea is a small country with an under developed tourist industry.
Similarly airlines are going to 10 across in economy on B777s. Densification is required to compete, for both aircraft.
Today KAL has denied the above news.
In a response to one of my twitter followers, KAL says “There are no plans at this time [to place our first A380 in storage]. We will notify you through press releases once the specific plans are set.”
I suspect we haven’t heard the last of this. I was checking KAL’s A380 seating plan and I see that the accommodation is for only 399 passengers. Yet here is an aircraft that was designed for around 500 passengers or for over 600 passengers if configured two-class (which Emirates has done for a few of its A380s).
If you glance at KAL’s seating plan you will see the amount of space available to passengers. This cannot be [for any airline] an economical configuration although, of course, good for economy class passengers.