A380 "Too Big" Say Two Airline Execs

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It's too big for some runways and terminals but is Airbus's A380 also too big for some airlines? According to the CEOs of two major U.S. airlines, the 550-seat behemoth will be shunned in the U.S. as too costly and too crowded. "I don't think the A380 is going to sell other than to cargo carriers in the U.S.," Northwest Airlines CEO Richard Anderson told Bloomberg News. Northwest operates about a dozen B747 models to haul cargo. Continental CEO Gordon Bethune said he doesn't think passengers will want to be lost in the A380 crowd. "What's in it for me to sit on an airplane with 500 other people, wait for my bags with 500 other people, check in with 500 other people," he wondered. He did fail to mention the A380 has room for such amenities as full-service restaurants and lounges. Continental operates an all-Boeing fleet. The A380 is Airbus's weapon in a high-stakes battle that will likely determine whether it will continue its newly won dominance over Boeing in the commercial jet market. For the first time this year, Airbus will make more airliners than Boeing. Boeing is answering the challenge with the 7E7 Dreamliner, less than half the size of the A380 but with similar range, something Bethune is cheering. "Nonstop is the real answer, not bigger."