It would seem a simple solution to a simple question – If there are an increasing number of people traveling then you can cater to this by building bigger planes to carry more passengers. Of course, it doesn’t work that way.
A generation ago the number of airline passengers was increasing to the point where the airports were struggling. There were only a limited number of possible take offs and departures possible per day. If we wanted to get more people to their destination we either needed more planes flying or bigger planes with more people on board. As there was not enough scheduling time for more planes so companies started designing bigger planes.
The A380 superjumbo by Airbus was the product of this thinking. The designers built the 500 plus seater plane a decade ago under the impression that is would alleviate congested airports. The airbus could carry almost twice as many people as most planes, so it could effectively replace two other flights. But so far this hasn’t worked out well.
Aircraft routes have fragmentised. Instead of a lot of passengers going to the same destination we have a lot of passengers going to several different destination. Any new flights added tend to be new routes to smaller cities. One large aircraft is not suitable for this.
Airlines catered to the larger number of passengers travelling to multiple destinations by increasing traffic to a number of smaller airports. They also used moderate sized (300 passenger) planes that were easier to maintain. A two engine moderate size plane was less expensive to maintain than a large four engine plane. Multiple flights with moderate sized planes is the modern approach to airline travel.
But the situation might yet change. Passenger traffic doubles every 15 years, and there are some popular destinations like New Delhi and London that are growing congested. A few larger planes might do well with these routes.
If the large A380 airbus plane is to stay in production it will require at least 6 aircraft to be ordered per year. In a few years the demand for these large craft may increase.
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