The world’s biggest passenger aeroplane is going cheap
世界上最大的客机在降价

巨无霸问题 Superjumbo problems-书迷号 shumihao.com

HOW MUCH is an airliner worth if it is languishing on the tarmac, and may never fly passengers again? In the age of covid-19 that is the fate of many double-decker A380 superjumbos built by Airbus, Europe’s aerospace giant. Once seen by airlines as the future of commercial aviation, many are being retired early as covid-19 has cast a pall on the future of globe-trotting. Those still in service could be yours for a few million dollars.

如果一架客机闲置在停机坪上,而且可能再也不会载客升空,那它值多少钱?新冠疫情期间,这是欧洲航空航天巨头空客制造的许多双层巨无霸客机A380的命运。A380一度被航空公司视作商业航空的未来,但因为疫情给全球航空出行的前景蒙上阴影,它们中有许多正在提前退役。而那些还在服役的,你花上几百万美元就能拥有一架。

The A380 was in trouble before the pandemic. Delays meant that by the time it at last flew it had to compete with smaller, more efficient jets. Only 14 airlines ever ordered the 500-plus seater, with Emirates, based in Dubai, operating nearly half the 242 planes delivered. After Emirates cancelled orders for 39 in February 2019, Airbus announced it was winding down production of the plane.

A380在疫情前就已陷入困境。由于交付延迟,等到它最终投用时,又得与更小、更高效的飞机竞争。只有14家航空公司订购过这个有500多个座位的机型,而在已交付的242架中将近一半由总部位于迪拜的阿联酋航空运营。2019年2月阿联酋航空取消了39架A380的订单,此后空客宣布逐步停产该机型。

All aircraft have lost value as a result of covid-19. But the fall has been unusually steep for A380s. The model’s main attraction for airlines was to relieve congested runways at global hub airports. Now these are empty. Fewer than one in ten working A380s are plying the skies, according to Flightradar24, which tracks air traffic. Smaller craft are faring somewhat better.

疫情爆发后,所有飞机都贬值了。但A380的跌幅之大非同一般。这个机型过去对航空公司最大的吸引力是能缓解全球枢纽机场中跑道拥堵的情况。但现在跑道上空空如也。根据追踪空中交通的“24小时飞行雷达”(Flightradar24)的数据,在役A380中只有不到十分之一在执飞航班。更小的飞机情况稍好一些。

The aviation industry may not recover until 2024, according to the International Air Transport Association, a trade group. That is a long time to maintain aeroplanes, so some airlines have thrown in the towel. Air France has announced its nine A380s will never fly again, and booked a €500m ($588m) write-down in the value of its fleet. Germany’s Lufthansa has cut its 14-strong squadron by six. Singapore Airlines, the second-biggest operator with 19 planes, plans an ominous-sounding “review”.

行业组织国际航空运输协会(International Air Transport Association)认为,航空业可能要到2024年才能复苏。这对于飞机维护来说是一段很长的时间,所以一些航空公司索性放弃了。法国航空宣布它的九架A380将不再执飞,并对机队价值做了5亿欧元(5.88亿美元)的减记。德国汉莎航空已将其总共14架的A380机队砍掉了六架。拥有全球第二大A380机队、有19架在役的新加坡航空计划开展一次听起来不妙的“审查”。

Valuations of A380s have tumbled accordingly. The oldest models have been flying for 12 years or so. At that age, aircraft have typically lost half their value. Given each costs $250m-300m to buy when kitted out, airline accountants might have hoped for $125m. But even before covid-19 appraisers suggested between $75m and $100m. Now some A380s are fetching half what they used to be worth, says Usman Ahmed of Aircore Aviation, a consultancy. The slump is borne out by the accounts of investment funds that own planes and lease them to airlines. A fund called Doric Nimrod Air One recently cut the accounting value of its sole asset, an A380 leased to Emirates, by 51% in dollar terms.

A380的估价随之大跌。其中最老的飞机已经服役了12年左右。这个机龄的飞机通常会跌价一半。鉴于一架装备齐全的飞机要花2.5亿到3亿美元购买,航空公司的会计师们原本可能希望每架还能值1.25亿美元。但即使是在疫情发生前,估价师给出的价格也只在7500万至1亿美元之间。咨询公司空核航空(Aircore Aviation)的乌斯曼·艾哈迈德(Usman Ahmed)表示,现在一些A380卖得的价钱只有之前的一半。拥有飞机并出租给航空公司的投资基金的账目证实了价格暴跌。一家名为Doric Nimrod Air One的基金最近将其唯一资产的美元账面价值减记了51%,那就是一架租赁给阿联酋航空的A380。

The share prices of listed A380-owning funds suggests the residual values of the planes once the leases expire are between $10m and $15m, says Matthew Hose of Jefferies, an investment bank. Given regular maintenance overhauls of each of the A380’s four engines can cost $6m, existing motors in decent nick are, in principle, worth at least that much. Add the landing gear, also in principle reusable, and that would make the airframe itself worthless. It also signals that even the spares—which in modern planemaking are always aircraft-specific and useless for other models—may not have much value.

投资银行杰富瑞(Jefferies)的马修·何塞(Matthew Hose)说,从那些拥有A380飞机的上市基金的股价来看,一旦租约到期,每架飞机剩余的价值在1000万美元到1500万美元之间。考虑到给A380的四个引擎中的每一个做定期维修可能要花600万美元,状态尚好的引擎原则上至少值这个价。加上原则上同样还能重复使用的起落架,那么就等同于说机身本身一文不值。这也意味着,就连备件(在现代飞机制造中都是供某个机型专用,对其他机型毫无用处)可能也不值多少钱了。

Struggling operators sometimes convert unwanted passenger jets into cargo planes. But Airbus never launched a freight version of the A380, so the conversion would be tricky. No scheduled carrier that flies the aircraft already is keen on more, even at knock-down prices. The first A380 to fly, which came into service in 2007, has already been sent to the scrapheap. More are headed that way. ■

日子难过的航空公司有时会将多余的客机改装成货机。但空客从未推出过货运版的A380,因此要改装它是件麻烦事。没有一家已经在用这款飞机的航空公司乐意买更多,哪怕是以“地板价”。于2007年开始服役的首架A380已经被送进了废品堆。还有更多正走在这条路上。