With the first of Qantas’s A380s to take off on Saturday on a revenue flight for the first time since their grounding after the QF32 incident, it’s worth considering the cost that the airline has had to bear with having its flagships out of service.
For the three weeks the entire fleet was grounded, possibly millions of dollars in lost revenue has been forgone, although the bleeding has been stemmed as the airline has stepped up its A330, 767 and 747 fleets to allow it to continue offering its full schedule. Nevertheless, with the lower capacity on offer on routes such as London and Los Angeles, there is no doubt that Qantas is feeling the pain of having to rebook passengers on other carrier’s services.
Then there are the other costs, such as putting up those disrupted passengers in London and Los Angeles, and also chartering of British Airways 777s to operate some London-Singapore services. It appears that those will be the biggest items to affect the airline’s profits during this year, likely in the region of many millions of dollars.
Further than that, Airbus and Rolls-Royce will also have to bear the costs of tarnished reputations. Rolls-Royce in particular has done little to enamour itself with the travelling public, still remaining tight-lipped about the issues with the Trent 900 and any fixes, with the company evidently continuing to take its lead from Marcel Marceau and say nothing.
That could end up having an impact on other A380 operators around the globe. One of the more interesting comments over the past few weeks has come from Emirates president Tim Clark who called on Rolls-Royce to be more forthcoming with information about the Trent 900 situation. While its own A380s are powered by the rival Engine Alliance GP7200, it appears that Emirates is concerned that the issue could hurt other A380 operators.
Of course, the compromise of safety is the biggest cost of all, and in this case the costs of the grounding were only minimal compared to if the aircraft had continued to operate and a similar (or, God forbid, worse) an accident were to have happened. The grounding proved to be fortuitous, given that oil leaks in engines on three Qantas aircraft and others with Singapore Airlines and Lufhansa were discovered.
For that reason, it appears that QF32 hasn’t cost Qantas its strong reputation. While it may take some time for the travelling public to embrace the A380 again, the Flying Kangaroo has handled it well. Although we have yet to see what the dollars and cents costs of the grounding were, those costs will be minimal compared to the cost of inaction and the cost Qantas’s brand would have faced if it had not taken the action it did.
Do you think Qantas’s brand has suffered in the wake of QF32?