By the end of next year five Asian carriers will count the A380 superjumbo among their fleet, with China Southern, Malaysia Airlines and Thai Airways set to join existing A380 operators SIA and Korean Air.
Singapore Airlines was the first carrier to operate the A380 back in 2007, and currently has 12 superjumbos in its fleet, featuring SIA’s latest fully flat business class seats and suites in first class. The carrier has a total of 19 A380 aircraft on order, and recently revealed a second layout for new A380 deliveries, featuring an all-business class upper deck (see online news May 23).
Korean Air became the second Asian airline to take delivery of the superjumbo in May (see online news May 24), and currently operates the aircraft on routes to Hong Kong and Tokyo, with Bangkok, New York, LA and Paris all set to see the carrier’s A380 this year. Korean Air has a total of 10 superjumbos on order.
China Southern will be the third Asian carrier to fly the A380, with its first delivery scheduled for September this year, and a total of five superjumbos on order. According to respected aviation website flightglobal.com the carrier will initially operate the aircraft on domestic routes from Beijing to both Shanghai and Guangzhou. An image of what is believed to be the layout for China Southern’s A380 was leaked on a social media site earlier this year (see online news April 4).
Next year both Malaysia Airlines and Thai Airways are expected to take delivery of their superjumbos, with MAS likely to see its first A380 around April, and Thai following in August 2012.
Malaysia Airlines will offer a four-class economy, premium economy, business and first class layout (see January 24, 2010), and looks set to operate A380 services from Kuala Lumpur to both London Heathrow and Amsterdam Schiphol. The carrier has six superjumbos on order, with five set to be delivered next year.
Thai Airways has also started to reveal details about its A380 aircraft. The carrier expects to take delivery of three of its six superjumbos next year, configured with 507 seats in an economy, business and first class layout. In a recent interview with Business Traveller’s Asia-Pacific website, Thai Airways president Piyasvasti Amranand said the aircraft will initially be placed on regional routes before being rostered onto key routes including London and Frankfurt (for more information see online news July 18).
If current delivery schedules go to plan, it means that by the end of next year over half the airlines operating A380 aircraft will be Asian carriers. Japan’s Skymark Airlines and South Korea’s Asiana Airlines have also placed orders for the superjumbo, and it is believed Hong Kong Airlines will soon confirm an order for A380 aircraft (see online news June 14).
Of course it’s worth mentioning that the total number of A380 aircraft set to be delivered to Asian carriers is still less than that of the 90 superjumbos ordered by Emirates alone. The Gulf carrier currently has 15 A380s in its fleet, three more than Singapore Airlines.
For a comparison of the six airlines currently operating the A380 (SIA, Emirates, Qantas, Air France, Lufthansa and Korean Air), including images, videos and seatplans, click here.
Report by Mark Caswell