A Commercial Aviation Consultancy

The British Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has dismissed a claim by Airbus regarding statements in a Boeing ad.  Airbus protested after Boeing ran an ad claiming that the 747-8 has better fuel burn versus the A380 under certain conditions.  You can read more about this here and here.  The ASA believes that the audience will understand the underlying assumptions.  If that is the case, why would Airbus and Boeing even start to send these weird messages?

What are the facts?

Let’s start with the only airline that flies both aircraft at present. Clearly Lufthansa does not use these aircraft interchangeably. The A380 is an order of magnitude bigger (by more than a third) in capacity terms.  Moreover Lufthansa is well known for its “horses for courses” fleet management philosophy.  According to this data we would say one cannot compare the aircraft evenly.

8-7-2013 8-17-25 AM

Besides here is a chart worth taking a look at again, it dates back from 2007.

For AS (NXPowerLite)

Boeing has seen slow buying of the 747-8i with only 40 sold compared to 262 A380s sold.  Apparently the market is smart enough to figure out the ads are silly.  So why even bother if only to irritate the other guy?  Seems like a remarkable waste of resources by both OEMs.  The sillier of the two is the one which responded to the initial ad.  The very idea of comparing the two aircraft is surely seen as silly by those with “a high-level understanding” (ASA’s words).  These people probably don’t even read the ads.

Here is a summary of the various seating configurations for the A380s flying.8-7-2013 8-21-52 AM

© 2013, Addison Schonland. All rights reserved.

10 Responses to Those Airbus vs Boeing ads

  • It worth noting that LH has the most dense seating capacity of any airline operating the A380. It is also worth noting the that LH’s 747-8Is are configured more (proportionally) for premium travel than its A380s (F/J at 8/80 vs 8/98). So that 6% advantage is not really 6%, especially when considering that all LH’s GEnx motors will be swapped out for new spec achieving models over the next year. Add to that the Ozark Project improvements being introduced into -8I production next year, and the Intercontinental has about the same or slightly better seat economics than the A380 with similar seat densities. This is accomplished with much lower trip cost (capacity risk). Also, consider that the -8I has much more cargo revenue potential than does the A380 as a function of belly volume. It’s a no brainer from 2014 onwards unless an airline really needs all 500 seats.

    • Let’s not forget these 2007 numbers presume both airplanes perform to spec. In the real world 748 is overweight and has engines that have missed their SFC whereas the A380 is meeting or exceeding the spec. IRL the difference would be about 10%. This is supported by the orderbook where the Superjumbo beats the moribund 747 by almost 7:1.

    • To follow up on what Scratch said, there is an interesting portion on page two of the Aviation Week article linked above. It says:

      “However, one airline industry source with detailed inside knowledge of performance data for both aircraft on comparable routes and layout standards says there is hardly any unit cost difference between the 747-8 and the A380. Even so, that data does suggest a trip cost advantage for Boeing in excess of 20%, the official says. Unlike the unit cost figures, which appear to be off for both the Boeing and Airbus claims, the trip cost level would be relatively close to what Boeing markets for its largest aircraft.”

      If that is true, wouldn’t those numbers improve with the addition of the PIP? Perhaps there are some decision makers that have been simply waiting to see some hard data from actual usage.

  • And when the B747-8I will get some 1% Pip’s, the A380 may have shed one or two tons , an be on the way of a 4% more efficient new engines … like the Trent-Ten !
    Just be aware of the timing, the B748 FAL may be closed the next 24 month !

  • Followed by the close of the A380 FAL! Those 20 fake orders by DORIC who is acting as a pass through agent for Airbus are a joke.

    No real return on the investment not to mention Airbus take on all the cost of re-fit when they come off lease? Hmmm.

    Not to mention the A380 is the ugliest airplane flying.

    And Airbus has to sell how many to get an ROI (even with free handouts!) Last best guess was 750.

  • Lufthansa’s number have also been discussed in some comments on my blog.
    A380: 526 pax at 3.4 l/pax/100km = 1,778 l/100 km
    B747-8: 362 pax at 3.5 l/pax/100km = 1,267 l/100 km (or -28%)

    The numbers seem to be consistent with Boeing’s claim 26% less fuel burn on per trip basis.

    The whole discussion was based on the numbers provided by someone in the discussion.

    It is in the comments #65, #66 and #67 wp.me/piMZI-3d0/#comment-4991

  • VV, first you use 3.4 litres/pax/100km whereas directly in the Lufthansa graphic it states 3.3 litres/pax/100km. Hence you have already skewed the data through your own numbers by about 2.8% in Boeing’s favour. Why did you do that?
    Now you say that Boeing burns 28% less fuel per trip but you fail to point out that the 747 carries over 31% less passengers.

  • If there is so little difference between those 2 aircraft why one is selling well and almost nobody wants the other (except Lufthansa) ?

  • I think noticing that the A380 has 3x % bigger revenue floor space tells it all. Also putting the 747 economy seats in a A380 you move to 11 abreast on the maindeck etc.

    Clearly Airbus misformulated their complaint. As someone at Leeham said. Buyers aren’t the target group of the advertisements. Its the bigger public, politicians, stock buyers, congress, those who want Boeing to be the winning team. So it worthwhile to say you are better, more profitable, more innovative, smarter. E.g. Tax cuts, ImEx financing, WTO support, sales lobbying by politicians, NASA budgets, education, all become easier if people believe they are joining a winning team.

    Anyway I wouldn’t be happy if a judge concludes my customers don’t take my expensive adds & claims seriously..

  • Allow me point out a flaw in this article. The author is comparing one of the many different 747 models to all of the A380s.

    In reality, there have been 262 A380s ordered and 1,528 747s.

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