Airbus A380 Service Coming To DFW Airport?

Via The Dallas Morning News Aviation Blog:

The Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport board will be asked next week to approve construction at the airport’s Terminal D to accommodate an Airbus A380, the airline industry’s largest passenger airplane.

The A380 supposedly will arrive in October. But the airport doesn’t say which airline plans to bring the A380.

Here’s some info from briefing information provided the airport board, and we quote:

– Recent gate capacity studies have identified that terminal modifications are needed to accommodate forecasted growth. Based on industry knowledge, there is the need to accommodate ADG VI aircraft in 2014. The objective of this project is to provide one ADG VI gate at Terminal D.

– This action will provide for construction at Terminal D to accommodate ADG VI aircraft by the anticipated required date of October 1, 2014.

– Without the construction of the Terminal D jetbridge modifications, DFW Airport can not accommodate scheduled service of passenger-carrying ADG VI aircraft.

The airport staff is asking the board to approve a $2,847,777 construction contract to modify gates D15 and D16 with such changes as a second jet bridge and walkway to load passengers.

An airline spokesman politely declined to say who’s coming. It’ll be up to the airline to announce.

I enjoy a good rumor, just as I enjoyed the rumor that Turkish Airlines is considering leasing four A380s (a rumor, for the record, which the Turkish CEO has acknowledged, though we still don’t have final details).

So which airline could be launching A380 service to Dallas?

The major international carriers to DFW Airport include:

Dallas is of course a big American Airlines and OneWorld hub, so I think it’s very likely that it will be a OneWorld carrier that’s even pondering A380 service to Dallas, given the possibility for connections. That leaves British Airways and Qantas. Or to throw out a “wild card” option, I wouldn’t totally be shocked if it were Emirates, for reasons I’ll cover below.

British Airways

They presently have one daily flight between Dallas and London on a 747, though American and British Airways basically have a monopoly on the market. So British doesn’t have a ton to gain by sending an A380 there. That being said, surely they could easily route more connecting passengers through Dallas, so I’d say they definitely could make the route work. Though in my opinion they don’t have a whole lot to gain with that equipment change.

British-Airways-Concorde-Room-36
British Airways A380

Qantas

This is an interesting one. Qantas announced a massive restructuring yesterday given that they’re bleeding money on their longhaul routes. So one hand surely they can’t be considering sending another A380 on an ultra longhaul route, which are tough to turn a profit on. Furthermore, Qantas did just cancel their remaining A380 orders, so clearly it isn’t totally “working” for them.

At the same time, Qantas presently flies a 747 to Dallas, and apparently it has major payload restrictions, to the point that they’re having to consistently block off dozens of seats per flight. After all, the Sydney to Dallas flight is the world’s longest 747 flight, at 8,578 miles. Chances are that the A380 could do this route without payload restrictions, so it would not only represent a massive increase in capacity, but also mean that they’d actually have the ability to maximize the loads on the flight.

Furthermore, Qantas did just re-time one of their flights from Melbourne to London, which frees up one of their A380s. They also do sometimes fly an A380 to Hong Kong, so if they swapped a plane on that route they’d potentially have two free A380s, which is enough to operate the Dallas route.

Qantas-A380-5433
Qantas A380

Emirates

I think Emirates is highly unlikely, since they don’t partner with American, so therefore they’d be relying almost solely on passengers originating or terminating in Dallas. Also, they only fly a 777-200LR to Dallas, so aren’t even flying their larger 777-300ER to Dallas, which suggests they don’t think the demand and/or yields are there.

Why do I think it’s even a possibility? Well, the two other Middle Eastern “giants,” Etihad and Qatar, are launching service to Dallas this year, so Emirates could just be sending them a message that they’re the Middle Eastern “alpha male.” And Emirates does have the largest A380 fleet of any airline, so it wouldn’t proportionally be as much of a fleet commitment for them as it would be for other airlines.


Emirates A380

What do you guys think?

Will it be British Airways, Qantas, Emirates, or some other airline altogether?

Comments

  1. My guess, and I have little actual basis for this is Qantas. Currently, I believe their 747 service from DFW-SYD, and not the reverse, has to stop at BNE. I flew on the 747 from BNE-SYD earlier this month. I overheard passengers talking about it and wishing that they’d swap out the 747 for something that could get all the way to SYD from DFW while flying west. There are plenty of other options, even in Qantas, to get from BNE to SYD at any time of day. And, I don’t think the 747 was all that full on that route, so maybe there was sufficient traffic whose destination was Brisbane. Not knowing the Aussie market, I’d assume that flying into Sydney is the better option.

  2. @ Bene — Even though they presently fly an A330/340-300 there, and not even an A340-600, 747-400, or 747-8?

    If so, I believe that would be the first once daily route where Lufthansa goes from an A330 to an A380.

    Anything could be, I guess!

  3. I guess it’s probably QF… It could also allow them to take the 747 off the JFK-LAX route and route JFK pax through DFW w/ AA. They have to be able to make more money elsewhere…

  4. @ Lantean — True, but they’re taking delivery of their first A380s over the summer and DFW is a completely new route for them. They’ve also stated that they’ll first be flying their A380s to Europe, so I think they’re more or less out of the picture.

  5. As soon as I read the first paragraph my mind went to Qantas. Part of Oneworld so AA can feed it, already flies there with a large plane, implementing cost cutting measures (and the A380 could save them money on this route over a 747) and they are freeing up the extra A380 on the London Route. All seems to add up. Hopefully it also means there could possibly be more F award space out of the US to AUS?!!?

  6. Make more money elsewhere with the 747**

    Can’t be profitable to fly it half full from JFK-LAX without local traffic rights can it?

  7. My guess is Emirates. I agree with what you described about them wanting to show Etihad and Qatar that they are the dominant Middle Eastern carrier. I also believe that their massive fleet of A380s could influence the likelihood.

  8. @ Justin — That’s a great question, am curious about the “breakeven point” on that flight. The thing is that the plane sits on the ground at LAX for 14 hours otherwise, and it’s expensive to park a plane for that long. Admittedly it’s more expensive to *fly* a plane, but I wonder how the costs compare.

  9. This is a shot in the Dark, but maybe Korean Air? They are already scheduled to go to a 777-300ER starting in September and with Dallas apparently having the second largest Korean Population in South next to Atlanta, could make sense…

  10. The transpac routes are the *only* ones Qantas makes money on. My bet is QF, especially if the 380 has the range to get to Sydney westbound non-stop.

  11. With BA already serving Texas with 787 service from AUS, I cant see them adding a 380 as well. BA should send one to Orlando and stop with the ancient 777.

  12. Qantas flies daily A380 to HKG (QF127/128)
    However I have no information about the load factor of the flight or whether the airline is planning an equipment swap, which wouldn’t surprise me if it does.

  13. My guess is it would not be Lufthansa, Emirates, Air France or Qatar. Lufthansa flies it’s A380s mainly to Star Alliance hubs. Houston would sooner see an Emirates A380 route before Dallas due to Houston’s economics and current 777-300ER flying to the city. The Dallas to Paris route demand isn’t large enough for Air France to fly an A380 there. That being said the most likely guess for an A380 route would be Qantas.

  14. My guess is also Qantas, making DFW-SYD nonstop.

    1. BA/AA are going for frequency on DFW-LHR and together have 3 or 4 flights. In addition BA serves AUS.
    2. Most definitely not Lufthansa, as they’re just holding steady. Unrelatedly I’m surprised KLM hasn’t dropped DFW altogether.
    3. EK could come with an A380, but only if someone drops DFW like KL
    4. Does Air France even fly DFW?
    5. Qatar is possible, but I’m sure they’ll just put those A380’s on DOH-LHR for the beginning.

  15. Agree that Qantas makes the most sense. The only thing that stops me tipping them completely is that nothing was said in yesterday’s announcement about it, and they did say a lot of stuff. Why announce all the other changes and keep quiet on this one?

  16. No AF yet to dfw (not since ’08) but we do have KLM most of the year. Current QF flight is usually at or near capacity (load adjusted) so I agree w other replies but A Chinese carrier is also a possibility.

  17. @ jon — My guess is because the airport hasn’t even officially approved the A380 gate. So it’s tough to announce a new route without the infrastructure being confirmed first.

  18. If we made airlines pay for every A380 upgrade out of their own profits I wonder how many A380’s we see flying today. It makes sense for LAX or JFK to have A380 gates but if Dallas needs one then let the airline who wants it pay for it. If it’s QF then good luck with that.

  19. correct me if I got my math wrong but with 12 a380’s, the current utilization seems to be

    3 planes on QF 1/2 for daily SYD-DXB-LHR and return
    3 planes on QF 9/10 for daily SYD-DXB-LHR and return
    2 planes on QF 11/12 for daily SYD-LAX and return
    2 planes on QF 93/94 for daily MEL-LAX and return
    2 planes for QF 127/128 for (4 or 5 weekly) SYD-HKG and return.

    Since the SYD-HKG is not even daily for A380, can’t they swap that out out and use it for SYD-DFW?

    I also see no point in continuing LAX-JFK anymore. AA has a tremendous new product on the A321T that can accommodate all 1st, business, premium economy (PE get MC+) and economy passengers. They could easily also send that 747 back to SYD or MEL as a spare incase one of the a380’s breaks down.

  20. @ AJ — For QF 9/10 I believe they’re adjusting the schedule so the plane has less sit time in London, and as a result will only need two A380s for the service. That leaves one spare plane, so combined with one of the HKG planes it would be more than enough to operate the DFW service.

  21. won’t they need a high gross weight a380 for SYD-DFW? SYD-DFW is longer that DXB-LAX and EK said only the HGW A380 could do that route.

  22. @ Samuel — Given that they just cut their last US route and only have a handful of A380s, I think the chances of that are next to zero.

  23. Whatever QF does, please do not take A380 out of HKG!!!
    I have 2 F trips booked on SYD-HKG route, this route contains many “best’s” of aviation:
    1) Best looking airport FCL, and among the best FCL food/service
    2) Among the best F seat on A380
    3) Best redemption rate out of AA account (only 45k Australia/NZ-Asia in F)
    4) Best destination to arrive into “HKG”

  24. Qantas makes sense but a lot of posters of DFW blog think it’ll be Emirates. They have more A380s than anyone else and, supposedly, their CEO has said something about flying A380s to all US destinations. For selfish reasons, I’d want them to start A380 service to Houston first though 😉

  25. My guess is Emirates, simply because they have the most A380s and are actively pushing them out to more and more destinations, and also well known for increasing capacity on routes at a fast clip where they feel it is warranted.

    If, however, it is Qantas then I would expect a rebalancing by one of the LAX A380 flights being downguaged to offset and keep loads & yields high.

  26. While reading about NZ Dreamliner routes, I stumbled on a quote in this article https://tinyurl.com/o95glhg

    “He has highlighted the potential for the plane to fly direct between Sydney and Dallas, which is at the upper end of its range. Qantas currently uses a 747 for that flight and stops in Brisbane on the return.”

  27. Lucky: You may want to include AeroMexico. They resumed flying here last year. (I thought some body was missing).

  28. Foreign Flag carriers @ DFW are:

    AeroMexico A380 no
    Air Canada A380 no
    Avianca A380 no
    British Airways A380 highly probable
    Cayman A380 no
    Emirates A380 highly probable
    Etihad A380 most likely not
    KLM A380 no
    Korean A380 probably not
    Lufthansa A380 probably not since they use it at IAH
    QANTAS A380 maybe in 2015 or 2016 but I would love to see it in Oct 2014
    WestJet A380 no

  29. First off, Qantas did not cancel anything. They have 8 A380s on order. They have deferred them. ie, they have asked Airbus to deliver them later then planned.

    Next, the current A380 fleet for Qantas requires 6 for the daily SYD/MEL-LHR routes and 4 for the daily SYD/MEL-LAX routes. They are planning to retime the MEL-LHR flights, which should reduce the aircraft needed for LHR flights to 5, but they have not yet announced what those new times will be.

    The SYD-HKG route is operated by A380 4 days a week. The HKG route only requires 1 aircraft, not 2 (even if it was daily). This means Qantas has 1.5 ‘spare’ A380s when not accounting for maintenance.

  30. Did not see this thread updated with the answer to your question. The answer is both QANTAS as of September 29, 2014 and Emirates as of October 1, 2014.

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