A380 sales compared to 747 sales at program start (update 2013)

In the previous post I briefly discussed aviation analyst Richard Aboulafia’s assertion “Airbus will be paying the price for the A380 for many years to come” (see original article) from a purely financial and accounting point of view. In this post I wanted to look at it from the market point of view. To do that I will update with 2013 figures a couple of tables and graphics I built last year comparing A380 and 747 orders at each programme start (see last year’s post here).

First see in the graphic below A380 orders since the programme launch (2001) in comparison to those of the 747 (1966):

A380 and 747 orders referenced to the year of launch of each programme (up to 2013).

A380 and 747 orders referenced to the year of launch of each programme (up to 2013).

Both programmes show an initial sales rush at the time of programme launch. In both cases the rhythm of sales slowed down after the second year. In the first 13 years of program, each had managed:

  • 747: 433 orders.
  • A380: 304 orders (30% less).

Thus, we can see that the Boeing 747 was selling better already from the beginning of the programme.

I include again yet another comparison: aircraft orders taking as reference the year of first delivery, having heard so often the industry mantra that some potential customers would wait to see the aircraft in operation before placing orders. See below this second comparison:

A380 and 747 orders referenced to the year the 1st aircraft delivery of each programme (up to 2013).

A380 and 747 orders referenced to the year the 1st aircraft delivery of each programme (up to 2013).

In this case, and due to the shorter time to develop the Boeing 747 since program launch (1966), the difference in sales is narrowed:

  •  747: 301 orders.
  • A380: 304 orders (about the same).

You can see that, 6 years after the 1st delivery of each aircraft (2007 for the A380 and 1969 for the 747) the A380 and the 747 have sold about the same number of aircraft (thanks, no doubt, to the large recurring order placed at the fall by Emirates).

Boeing 747. The Boeing 747 was the first wide-body in commercial aircraft history and still is the twin-aisle with the highest amount of aircraft sold (1,537 a/c as of today, probably to be soon overtaken by the 777) and delivered (1,482 a/c as of today). However, it has taken over 40 years to reach those numbers. The 1,000th unit sold was reached after 25 years of sales in 1990. The 1,000th unit delivered was also reached after 25 years of aircraft deliveries, in 1993.

Thus, in my opinion, when we want to measure the success of the A380 we cannot be distracted by the figures of other commercial aviation segments (single-aisle and small / intermediate twin-aisle) but we have to check what the 20-year forecasts for the Very Large Aircraft say:

  • ~1,300 aircraft according to Airbus GMF,
  • ~600 aircraft according to Boeing CMO,

and then see what could be expected market share for the A380 against those forecasts and whether it is getting the orders to reach it or not.

Finally, as a reader (Matt B.) of the blog pointed in the comment section in last year’s post:  wide-body market has evolved from the 1970s till today, when there are several competitors and other programmes such as the A330 or the 777 deliver close to 100 airplanes per year.

You can find orders and deliveries figures in both manufacturers websites or summarized here: A380 and 747.

1 Comment

Filed under Aerospace & Defence

One response to “A380 sales compared to 747 sales at program start (update 2013)

  1. Pingback: A380: 747 production rate throughout history | The Blog by Javier

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