Thursday, January 15, 2009

Air Austral orders two single-class Airbus A380 aircraft

Air AustralAir Austral, an airline most people in the world have never heard of, is set to offer something most other airlines would not consider. The airline, which is based in the middle of the Indian Ocean on the island called La Réunion, has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Airbus for the purchase of two A380s in a single-class configuration. That's right -- they are ordering two all-economy class A380 aircraft.

From an Airbus press release about the deal:
In a single-class configuration the aircraft will seat around 840 passengers in the widest economy class seats and the service proven quietest cabin in the sky. Air Austral plans to operate the A380 through one of its subsidiaries on its high-density route from La Réunion to Paris, France. No engine choice has been made at this stage.
This is the first time a carrier has ordered an A380 in a single-class configuration.

"Our vision is to provide a low cost-high quality service on the heavy traffic route between La Réunion and Paris and the A380 allows us to make this vision a reality," said Gerard Etheve, President of Air Austral. "The A380 has the lowest cost per seat and is the most environment-friendly aircraft flying today while at the same time providing a high level of passenger comfort. This will enable Air Austral to better connect La Reunion to France at a lower fare," he added.

Sounds optimistic and very ambitious, especially given the current state of the global economy, when most airlines are reducing capacity. Nevertheless, I certainly wish Air Austral success with this bold move. All of us in the aviation community certainly will be watching.