A380 to visit Northwest Airlines’ home airport in Minneapolis

MINNEAPOLIS — Airbus says a visit to Minneapolis by its A380 jet plane isn’t a sales call, but no one flies here in November for the scenery.

Northwest Airlines Corp. executives will look over the slow-selling A380 superjumbo during a visit to their home airport on Tuesday.

The aircraft made its first commercial flight with 455 passengers last month, nearly two years late and billions of dollars over budget. Airbus spokesman Clay McConnell said the plane is flying from Airbus’ home in Toulouse, France, to Minneapolis, then Los Angeles, followed by Sydney, Australia. The trip is aimed at demonstrating the plane’s capabilities to airlines, airports, and passengers, he said.

“I wouldn’t say it’s an effort to convince them,” he said, referring to Northwest. “The aircraft really speaks for itself.”

Northwest seems like a perfect A380 customer, since the airline, along with United, flies more people to Asia than any other U.S. carrier, the kind of long-haul, high-volume flights the A380 is designed for. But Northwest is buying Boeing’s 787 instead, although its fleet includes 165 aircraft of other Airbus models. UAL Corp.’s United has also declined to order the A380.

Aerospace expert Richard Aboulafia said Airbus is probably flying the A380 around as part of a broader marketing effort and knows it has little chance of selling Northwest on the plane.

“They have a pretty good chance of selling them A350s and of course more narrowbodies anytime,” he said. “But A380s, that’s selling coal to people who have an oil-burning furnace.”

Airbus has booked orders for 165 A380s so far.

With 555 seats, the A380 is a good fit for airports with so-called slot limits on takeoffs and landings. But Northwest has relatively few flights at such airports. Runways at Minneapolis are big enough to handle the A380, though taxiways and some gates would need modification.

Airbus may be hoping Northwest reverses itself like British Airways did. BA said in January 2005 it wasn’t interested in the A380 for the time being, but in September it said it would order a dozen, along with 24 Boeing 787s.

“Northwest clearly has the routes where a 380 could possibly be appropriate. There’s enough from a salesman’s standpoint to just keep the issue on the table,” said Edmund S. Greenslet, an aerospace consultant at Airline Capital Associates Inc. and publisher of The Airline Monitor. “Maybe it doesn’t come to fruition for 5, 10 years. Who knows?”

Talk to us

More in Herald Business Journal

Members of Gravitics' team and U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen stand in front of a mockup of a space module interior on Thursday, August 17, 2023 at Gravitics' Marysville facility. Left to right: Mark Tiner, government affairs representative; Jiral Shah, business development; U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen; Mike DeRosa, marketing; Scott Macklin, lead engineer. (Gravitics.)
Marysville startup prepares for space — the financial frontier

Gravitics is building space station module prototypes to one day house space travelers and researchers.

Orca Mobility designer Mike Lowell, left, and CEO Bill Messing at their office on Wednesday, Aug. 16, 2023 in Granite Falls, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Could a Granite Falls startup’s three-wheeler revolutionize delivery?

Orca Mobility’s battery-powered, three-wheel truck is built on a motorcycle frame. Now, they aim to make it self-driving.

Catherine Robinweiler leads the class during a lab session at Edmonds College on April 29, 2021. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Grant aids apprenticeship program in Mukilteo and elsewhere

A $5.6 million U.S. Department of Labor grant will boost apprenticeships for special education teachers and nurses.

Peoples Bank is placing piggy banks with $30 around Washington starting Aug. 1.
(Peoples Bank)
Peoples Bank grant program seeks proposals from nonprofits

Peoples Bank offers up to $35,000 in Impact Grants aimed at helping communities. Applications due Sept. 15.

Workers build the first all-electric commuter plane, the Eviation Alice, at Eviation's plant on Wednesday, Sept. 8, 2021 in Arlington, Washington.  (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
Arlington’s Eviation selects Seattle firm to configure production plane

TLG Aerospace chosen to configure Eviation Aircraft’s all-electric commuter plane for mass production.

Jim Simpson leans on Blue Ray III, one of his designs, in his shop on Friday, August 25, 2023, in Clinton, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Whidbey Island master mechanic building dream car from “Speed Racer”

Jim Simpson, 68, of Clinton, is using his knowledge of sports cars to assemble his own Mach Five.

Inside the new Boeing 737 simulator at Simulation Flight in Mukilteo, Washington on Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2023. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
New Boeing 737 simulator takes ‘flight’ in Mukilteo

Pilots can test their flying skills or up their game at Simulation Flight in Mukilteo.

An Amazon worker transfers and organizes items at the new PAE2 Amazon Fulfillment Center on Thursday, Sept. 14, 2023, in Arlington, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Amazon cuts ribbon on colossal $355M fulfillment center in Arlington

At 2.8 million square feet, the facility is the largest of its kind in Washington. It can hold 40 million “units” of inventory.

A computer rendering of the North Creek Commerce Center industrial park in development at 18712 Bothell-Everett Highway. (Kidder Mathews)
Developer breaks ground on new Bothell industrial park

The North Creek Commerce Center on Bothell Everett Highway will provide warehouse and office space in three buildings.

Dan Bates / The Herald
Funko president, Brian Mariotti is excited about the growth that has led his company to need a 62,000 square foot facility in Lynnwood.
Photo Taken: 102312
Former Funko CEO resigns from the Everett company

Brian Mariotti resigned Sept. 1, six weeks after announcing he was taking a six-month sabbatical from the company.

Cash is used for a purchase at Molly Moon's Ice Cream in Edmonds, Washington on Wednesday, Aug. 30, 2023. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Paper or plastic? Snohomish County may require businesses to take cash

County Council member Nate Nehring proposed an ordinance to ban cashless sales under $200. He hopes cities will follow suit.

A crowd begins to form before a large reception for the opening of Fisherman Jack’s at the Port of Everett on Wednesday, August 30, 2023, in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Seafood with a view: Fisherman Jack’s opens at Port of Everett

“The port is booming!” The new restaurant is the first to open on “restaurant row” at the port’s Waterfront Place.