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How Much It Costs British Airways To Land An A380 At Frankfurt

While British Airways hasn’t scheduled the Airbus A380 to fly to Frankfurt since December, the giant of the skies has been making a daily appearance at the airport over much of the past week. The flights are being operated to increase cargo capacity on the route and allow for pilot training as the Airbus A380 return progresses.

How much does it cost British Airways to fly the Airbus A380 to Frankfurt? Photo: Getty Images

British Airways delighted many people last year when it revealed that the Airbus A380 would return to the skies. The arrival of the omicron variant failed to scupper the type’s return, with the giant of the skies operating four scheduled long-haul routes this month.

How much does it cost to land the A380 in Frankfurt?

While it mentions that prices aren’t binding, Frankfurt Airport offers a landing fee calculator on its website to give you some sort of idea about the costs associated with operations at the facility. To calculate the estimated cost of an A380 landing at Frankfurt, we made some assumptions,

  • The flight is BA 904/905 (this is the rotation that the Airbus A380 has operated)
  • There are 86 passengers boarding in Frankfurt (The flight is most commonly scheduled for an A319 which holds up to 144 passengers, BA’s average load factor for Q3 2021 was 60.8%)
  • There are no transfer/transit passengers
  • The aircraft uses a terminal-side gate with a jet-bridge
  • The flight is arriving and departing precisely on time
British Airways, Airbus A380, Johannesburg
The A380 has flown to Frankfurt regularly since the start of the month. Photo: Getty Images

According to Frankfurt Airport’s cost calculator, it would cost this flight a total of €9,604.08 ($10,874). The charge would be broken down as follows (all charges given in the format landing/take-off),

  • Total airport charges – €830.26/€3,426.47
    • Passenger charges – €0.00/€2,071.74
    • Security charges – €0.00/€110.94
    • Variable landing/take-off charges – €0.00/€122.12
    • Basic landing/take-off charges – €695.91/€858.54
    • Parking charges – €134.35/€3,426.47
  • Passive noise abatement charges – €18.75/€45.02
  • Charges for central GH-Infrastructure – €2,017.00/€3,266.58
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How does an Airbus A319 compare?

According to schedule data from Cirium, the Airbus A319 is the most commonly scheduled aircraft on the London Heathrow to Frankfurt route during January, accounting for 20 of the 38 planned rotations. With this in mind, we did the same calculations for an Airbus A319, using the same assumptions.

London Heathrow Airport, COVID-19 tests, Departing passengers
The A319 is significantly cheaper to fly to Frankfurt Airport. Photo: Getty Images

Interestingly, while the aircraft is much smaller, the passenger-related charges remain the same. All in all, the A319 would attract a charge of €3,599.26 in our exact scenario. This is 37.4% of the cost of landing the Airbus A380 at the airport. This is broken down as follows (changes from the Airbus A380 highlighted in bold),

  • Total airport charges – €203.04/€2,564.23
    • Passenger charges – €0.00/€2,071.74
    • Security charges – €0.00/€110.94
    • Variable landing/take-off charges – €0.00/€122.12
    • Basic landing/take-off charges – €154.75/€142.44
    • Parking charges – €48.29/€116.99
  • Passive noise abatement charges – €3.75/€24.02
  • Charges for central GH-Infrastructure – €154.00/€650.22

So why fly the Airbus A380 to Frankfurt?

You may be wondering why British Airways is flying the Airbus A380 to Frankfurt when it costs almost three times as much but doesn’t bring in any extra passenger revenue. After all, with the A380 not showing in the schedule, British Airways will be selling the number of seats equivalent to a narrowbody.

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British Airways confirmed to Simple Flying that there are actually two reasons why the airline operates the Airbus A380 to Frankfurt. Firstly, the cargo capacity of the Airbus A380 is far superior to the Airbus A320 family.

Passenger Figures, Frankfurt Airport, Heathrow Airport
The airline has been flying widebodies to Frankfurt for their cargo capacity. Photo: Fraport

Frankfurt Airport is a considerable freight hub, with cargo aircraft ensuring it remained one of Europe’s busiest at the height of the pandemic. Last year the airport actually broke a record in terms of the amount of cargo it handled in a year. In line with this, British Airways and its sister IAG Cargo have seen a massive surge in cargo demand on the route.

So far this year, the BA 904/905 flight rotation has been operated eight times. Seven of these were with the A380, while a Boeing 777 operated the rotation on Thursday. Data from FlightRadar24.com shows that widebodies have served BA 904 30 times since late August, compared to nine flights with narrowbodies.

Far higher freight capacity

British Airways typically operates the Airbus A320 family of aircraft to Frankfurt. According to All Nippon Airways, the Airbus A320 can take seven containers in its belly (including passenger luggage). Meanwhile, the A321 takes ten containers. The cargo weight limitation on these aircraft, excluding the bulk cargo area, is 7,938kg (17,500lbs) and 11,340kg (25,000lbs) respectively.

British Airways, Boeing 787, Short-Haul
Cargo capacity on the A320 and A321 is pretty limited. Photo: ANA Cargo

Understandably, this is far far higher on the Airbus A380. The giant of the skies can handle 32 containers in its belly in the configuration used by ANA. It’s worth noting that British Airways’ planes will hold fewer due to the customer options selected on the aircraft. Excluding the bulk cargo area, the ANA’s A380s can carry 67,584kg of cargo (149,000lbs).

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British Airways, Airbus A380, Frankfurt
As the largest passenger plane in the sky, the Airbus A380 has a significant cargo capacity. Photo: ANA Cargo

Crew training is also possible

Flying the Airbus A380 to Frankfurt gives the carrier another possibility. In the runup to relaunching Airbus A380 flights on long-haul routes, the airline put the giant jet through its paces, flying to Frankfurt and Madrid for around a month in November. Flight deck and cabin crew had not flown on the plane for the good part of a year and a half, except for a handful of empty ferry flights.

British Airways, Airbus A380, Frankfurt
The flights allow the crew to get back to grips on a shorter segment with the aircraft. Photo: British Airways

British Airways treated the return of the A380 as if it was the entry of a new type. When introducing the A350, it initially flew to Madrid to allow the crew to get comfortable with the jet on short hops. While the A380 is now back to operating long-haul flights, a British Airways spokesperson confirmed that the airline is taking the opportunity to train pilots on the route, suggesting that this is the reason it has opted for the giant instead of the Boeing 777.

Have you flown on the British Airways Airbus A380 since its return? Let us know what you think and why in the comments below!

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