Travel disruptors like Airbnb to be offered capacity on A380 superjumbos

Travel disruptors like Airbnb to be offered capacity on A380 superjumbos

An Irish aircraft-leasing firm reportedly plans to offer airline-style services for hire using a fleet of Airbus A380 superjumbos in a bid to breathe new life into the struggling passenger jet programme.

Dublin-based Amedeo, one of the world’s largest leasors of A380s with 12 under management and a further 20 on order, aims to offer seats to existing carriers or new entrants such as Airbnb from 2022.

The leasing company, formerly part of Doric Lease, plans to apply for an air operator’s licence next year.

Chief executive Mark Lapidus believes the air transport industry is ripe for disruption, with aircraft ownership and operation likely to become secondary to the brand-led services, price and convenience that airlines or others can offer to passengers.

“The airline business is commoditising in all classes,” he told the Financial Times.

“Joint ventures and code shares are making passengers feel accustomed to buying tickets with one [airline] but flying with another.”

He proposes offering capacity on the world’s biggest passenger aircraft to a club of airlines and non-traditional aviation players, who would retain control over the sale and distribution of tickets, but use his cabin crew to deliver an in-flight service tailored to their standards.

Lapidus said he was in early-stage discussions with a number of possible customers – including potential disruptors to the aviation industry such as Airbnb, which is looking for ways to enter the market without having to deal with the highly complex regulatory regime.

“For them the premise should work well,” said Lapidus. “They keep [the] customer, they keep the margin, we just charge a transparent, very competitive utility return on a capital fee.”

He acknowledged there were significant hurdles to overcome, from acquiring slots at capacity constrained airports to hiring crew at a time of severe pilot shortages.

However, he hopes to attract pilots over the age of 45 with “more flexible  conditions and lifestyle-driven working arrangements”.

Lapidus said he had already received indications of support from large A380 operators for elements such as training of cabin crew.

Amedeo’s proposal comes as questions intensify over the future of the double decker aircraft, which has not won a new customer in almost two years.

A widely expected order from the aircraft’s biggest operator, Emirates, failed to materialise at the Dubai Air Show last week amid last-minute disagreements with manufacturer Airbus over price, technical details and delivery schedules.

The order, which is still expected in the coming weeks, would guarantee production of the aircraft until the 2030s.

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