Airbus sees some very different uses for its A380s emerging, including short haul high density regional routes, like Sydney-Melbourne, and low cost holiday migrations like those from Japan to Hawaii and Germany to the Caribbean.

Not tomorrow, but within two decades.

All in addition to the A380’s current inaugural roles as a full service flagship airliner plying the premier long haul routes for Singapore Airlines, Emirates and Qantas, with Air France soon to follow across the North Atlantic with a Paris-New York service.

The chief operating officer customers for Airbus, John Leahy, and its Senior VP for market and product strategy, Laurent Rouaud, argued the VLA vision in Sydney today while presenting their Global Market Forecast for 2009-2028.

This forecast sees 60 new VLAs being delivered to Australian and New Zealand carriers by 2028. (Qantas already has four A380s in service and has firm orders for another 16 and a similar number of options or purchase rights.)

One of the keys to the Airbus case for a big selling A380 is summarised in the graphic below, showing 37 mega cities, defined as originating 92% of the world’s long haul traffic at volumes of 10,000 passengers or more per day.

megacities 2009

These cities include Sydney and Melbourne.

But by 2028 by this criteria the list of such mega cities will have grown to 82 (below) for which VLAs will dominate the services to other mega cities, arguably primarily carrying originating rather than connecting traffic.

more mega cities

By then Brisbane and Auckland will meet the mega city criteria in the Airbus forecast.

And something else happens. There will be at least 80 very high volume short distance regional VLA connections between mega cities not served by very fast trains, of course. Including Sydney-Melbourne-Brisbane and Auckland.

Don’t scoff. I’ve seen A380s loaded and unloaded more agreeably at Sydney Airport T1 international than a full single aisle 738 or A321 at T2 domestic. Even an 800 passenger Manly ferry turns around better than an 180 seat single aisle jet at T2!

By 2028 this is how Airbus ranks the 20 top VLA dominated airports of the world by predicted traffic, with Sydney ranked as No 13, which will be enough to give pause to anyone mindful of the planning genius of NSW and the diabolical issues its airport has with a small site and truly hopeless access infrastructure.

20 top VLA '28

This is how Airbus summarises the extra alternative uses of the A380 in all economy formats of more than 800 seats or use by new world carriers offering a discrete set of economy or premium economy options.

VLA route types

While Airbus and Boeing track each other’s market forecasts very closely in terms of future demands for air travel and new capacity, they certainly see the cities of the near future differently.

If the Boeing vision could be depicted as world of high tech ‘villages’ of a million people or more and emerging capitals, all linked together by a matrix of non-stop flights in medium sized airliners like the Dreamliner, the Airbus vision is one of truly gigantic mega cities, mostly served by hopelessly inadequate airports that can only function because of heavy reliance on Very Large Airliners like the Airbus A380.

They may both be right.

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