Airbus A380: Stick a Fork in It, It’s Done

By William Trent, CFA of Stock Market BeatWe have been saying that the Airbus A380 superjumbo jet is just too big:The only most successful US airline, Southwest (LUV) earned its success by offering non-stop flights from smaller airports. Rejional jets could open point-to-point non-stop service to an even larger number of even smaller airports – paving the way for the next Southwest.Smaller jets can be loaded and unloaded quickly, saving precious time for passengers and precious money for the operator – who can keep the jets flying (earning money) rather than sitting on the ground (costing money).Smaller airports allow passengers to pass more quickly through security, further saving time. Plus, greater point-to-point service to more markets means they also save time by not having to connect through hubs.Lacking the dramatic potential of larger jets, regional jets are likely to be avoided by terrorists.Basically, for most routes passengers won’t want to wait for the other 400 passengers to get on and off before doing so themselves. Smaller jets with direct flights to smaller markets is the way things are going. Up until now, however, air freight has been another story altogether.FedEx Corp. canceled its order for 10 Airbus A380 jets on Tuesday, the first customer to retract an order for the new jumbo double-decker plane that has been dogged by numerous delays.The world’s largest express transportation company cited Airbus’ production delays and said in a statement that its FedEx Express unit has ordered 15 Boeing Co. 777 freighters with a list price of $3.5 billion and taken options on an additional 15.FedEx is probably the single most important customer for such a large aircraft. If they are no longer in the market for the A380, you can stick a fork in it. It’s done. The author may hold a position in the securities discussed.The author’s current holdings are as follows: Long: Intuit (INTU) put options; Nasdaq 100 (QQQQ) put options; Bookham (BKHM; Ballard Power (BLDP); Syntax Brillian (BRLC); CMGI (CMGI); Genentech (DNA); Ion Media Networks (ION); Lion’s Gate (LGF); Three Five Systems (TFS); Adobe Systems (ADBE) call options; Ceradyne (CRDN); IShares Japan (EWJ); StreetTracks Gold (GLD); Starbucks (SBUX); U.S. Oil Fund (USO); Plantronics (PLT) call options; Short: Lion’s Gate (LGF) call options; Dell (DELL) put options; Ceradyne (CRDN) call options; Plantronics (PLT) put options

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