Air Austral has axed its order for two Airbus A380 superjumbos.
Airbus confirmed the cancellation of the deal that had a market value of more than $865 million – although it’s likely that Air Austral negotiated significant discounts.
“The agreement has been reached between Air Austral and Airbus following a change of strategy decided by the airline,” the European airplane maker told Business Insider. “We continue to work closely with our customer for future requirements.”
Had Air Austral taken delivery of its double-deckers, it would have seen the airline outfit the planes with 840 seats each in an all-economy configuration.
That’s right: 840 seats!
That’s more than double the 400 or so seats found on A380s operated by Korean Air and Singapore Airlines. But most superjumbos fly with between 480 and 560 seats featuring economy, business, and first-class suites.
Sure, flying on the A380 is generally regarded as a pleasant experience, but being crammed into a plane with 839 other people seems less than ideal for most fliers.
In that regard, count this as a win for passengers.
Air Austral’s 840-seater would have beaten the current passenger-volume champion from Emirates, which manages to cram in 615 passengers in business and economy classes. With that said, the majority of Emirates’ A380s feature three classes and carry about 500 passengers.
Air Austral planned to operated the all-economy A380 on its route from the airline’s home base on the Indian Ocean island of Réunion to Paris. The airline flies that route using a fleet of Boeing 777-300ERs with 442 seats in a three-class configuration.
Even with the cancellation of the Air Austral order, the Airbus A380 has, so far, had a solid year. The superjumbo has earned orders from All Nippon Airways and Iran Air.
Airbus has taken 319 total orders for the A380, with 184 in operation around the world. The superjumbo’s largest customer is Dubai-based Emirates, with 140 A380s ordered and a fleet of 75 in operation.