Airbus and Heathrow airport are celebrating the 10th anniversary of A380 operations at the airport. These began March 18th, 2008 with the arrival of the first A380, Singapore Airlines flight SQ308 from Singapore Changi airport making Heathrow one of the first to welcome Airbus’ iconic double-decker.
Heathrow is now the world’s busiest A380 airport by the number of A380 operators with nine airlines operating to 13 destinations on some 50 A380 daily flights. Heathrow serves 78 million passengers a year of which, 10% are traveling on A380 while accounting for ~4% of movements.
Meanwhile early this morning in Toulouse, Airbus got the sections for a new A380 today.
These are the sections for the first ANA A380, originally ordered in 2016. The delivery is scheduled early in 2019, and this A380 will initially be operated on the Tokyo-Honolulu route. ANA’s A380s will feature a special “Honu” Hawaiian green sea turtle livery, symbolizing good luck and prosperity.
The Japan-Hawaii market is large. According to the Hawaiian Tourism Authority in January 2018, there 784,237 arrivals. Of these 34.7% were international visitors. Of these international visitors, 43.6% were from Japan. That’s 1.7 Japanese visitors for every Canadian, and nearly one Japanese arrival for every American from the east coast. International flights to Hawaii had an 82.5% load factor for January this year compared to 86.1% last January. The HVA also reports that about 70% of the Japanese visitors are repeat travelers with about five trips to the islands.
This background explains the decision by ANA to select the A380 for Hawaii service. The ANA move is likely to set off some sort of market disruption. Other airlines like JAL and Hawaiian will need to respond because ANA will be able to drive the market because of the A380. We shall see how the competition responds to this disruption.