Airbus A380 vs. Boeing 777: How Do They Compare?

The Airbus A380 and Boeing 777 are both twin-aisle widebodies, but differ in one significant respect – the A380 has two passenger decks, whereas the 777 has a more traditional single-deck design. Both aircraft tend to serve long-haul markets.

The 777 has been around for more than 25 years and has continually evolved through a large number of variants. It is still in production, although most of the older 777 variants are no longer available. In contrast, the A380 first flew commercially in 2007, some twelve years after the 777, but its production has already ended.

In this article, I’ll compare these two aircraft from a number of different perspectives. Continue reading to see how these two long-haul, widebody aircraft compare in terms of key attributes such as size, seating capacity, range, and orders.

Airbus A380 vs. Boeing 777:

History

The A380 was available in just one variant the A380-800. Other variants were proposed but never produced, including the A380 Freighter (A380F), the A380-200 or ‘A380 Stretch’, the A380-900 (another stretched variant), the A380neo (stretched, new engines and higher passenger capacity), and the A380plus (higher seat capacity and improved fuel efficiency).

The A380 is the world’s largest passenger airliner and the only full-length double-deck commercial passenger aircraft. Airbus originally conceived the initial ideas for the A380 back in the late 1980s and developed the aircraft as a direct long-haul competitor to Boeing’s 747 (see how the A380 and 747 compare here). The A380 program was not launched until 2000, and the first prototype was produced in Toulouse, France in 2005. FAA and EASA type certificates were received in 2006.

The first A380 deliveries were delayed and took place in 2007, with Singapore Airlines being the launch customer. At its production peak, Airbus was able to produce thirty A380s a year.

The A380s largest customer is Emirates with 123 deliveries. In 2019 Emirates canceled part of a large order and subsequently, Airbus decided to end the A380s short-lived production run. The final, 251st, A380 was delivered to the Middle Eastern carrier in 2021.

Airbus A380

The 777-200 was launched in 1989 to fill the gap in Boeing’s product catalog between the 747 and the 767. The first 777-200 delivery took place in 1995 and was followed by an increased weight and range variant – the 777-200ER, which entered service in 1997. ETOPS (180 minutes) approval for the 777 came in 1995 with the launch of the 777-200.

After the 777-200, Boeing developed a stretched 777. With a length of almost 74m, the 777-300 became the longest airliner ever produced until it was superseded by the Airbus A340-600. The 777-300 delivered 20% more capacity compared to the 777-200 and went into service in 1998.

In 2000, Boeing launched its next-generation twinjet program. The first model to emerge from the program, the 777-300ER went into service in 2004 and went on to become a hugely successful product, combining the capacity of the 777-300 with the 777-200ER’s range. Another long-range model, the 777-200LR, went into airline service in 2006.

The 777F went into service in 2009 and was based on the structural design and engine specifications of the 777-200LR, and fuel tanks that were derived from the 777-300ER.

Boeing 777-300ER

In 2013 Boeing formally launched the 777-8 and 777-9. The 777-9 will be a stretched, higher-capacity version of the 777-8 with a slightly lower range. Both models are to be equipped with new generation GE9X engines and feature new composite wings with folding wingtips. At 76.72m long, the 777-9 will become the world’s longest airliner, topping the 76.25m-long 747-8.

Delivery of these latest 777 aircraft has been delayed a number of times, with Boeing now estimating 2025 for the 777-9.

The main 777 variants are listed below:

Aircraft ModelTypeFirst In Service
777-200Passenger1995
777-200ERPassenger1997
777-200LRPassenger2006
777-300Passenger1998
777-300ERPassenger2004
777FFreighter2009
777-8Passenger
777-8FFreighter2027 est.
777-9Passenger2025 est.

Dimensions

Let’s take a look at some key physical characteristics and see how the passenger versions of these two aircraft measure up against each other.

As you would expect, the double-passenger deck A380 is significantly heavier than the single-passenger deck 777 and has a wider diameter fuselage. However, the key wingspan and length dimensions of the A380 and some 777 variants are similar.

The A380 is classified as an FAA Group VI aircraft because of its wingspan. Whereas most of the 777 variants are the smaller Group V. The upcoming 777-X variants, with wings unfolded, fall into Group VI. That said, with folded wings, they fall into Group V making it easier to taxi around airports. Note that the 777-9 will be 4m longer than the A380.

Aircraft ModelLength/ mWingspan/ mFuselage Width/ mMTOW/ tonnes
A38072.7279.757.1m575.0
777-200/ 200ER63.7360.935.86247.2 – 297.6
777-200LR64.80347.5
777-30073.8660.93299.4
777-300ER64.80351.5
777F63.73347.8
777-869.7972.80/ 64.85 (folded)5.96351.5
777-8F70.9365.1
777-976.72351.5

Boeing 777F

Range

Airbus indicates that the A380 has a range of 8,000nm (15,000km), with a standard 4-class cabin configuration. This is comparable to the 777-200 LR and is slightly lower than the range of the 777-8.

The 777 was designed to bridge the gap between Boeing’s other widebody aircraft – the 767 and the 747, and also to replace older aircraft such as DC-10s and L-1011s. Therefore, the ability to fly long-haul was an important design factor. The 777-200LR and the 777-30ER (and the 777-8, and the 777-9) have impressive ranges enabling the 777 to serve some of the world’s longest commercial air routes.

The 777 variants, including freighters, have a wide spread of ranges varying from around 8,600km to 16,200km, with the 777-8 expected to have the longest range of all 777 variants, similar to the A350-1000. The 777 variant ranges are shown in the table below.

Aircraft ModelRange
777-2005,240nm (9,700km)
777-200ER7,065nm (13,080km)
777-200LR8,555 nm (15,843 km)
777-3006,030nm (11,165km)
777-300ER7,370 nm (13,649 km)
777-300ERSF4,650nm (8,610km)
777F4,970nm (9,200km)
777-88,730nm (16,170km)
777-8F4,410nm (8,170km)
777-97,285nm (13,500km)

Seat Capacity and Cabin Layout

Airbus indicates that the A380 allows 545 seats in a standard 4-class configuration and a maximum seating capacity of 853. The maximum 4-class configuration currently operating is 520 seats.

For the A380 I looked at the seating configurations of all current A380 operators. Typically, this aircraft is configured with three or four-class cabin configurations, with one airline (Emirates) operating a two-class configuration (business and economy classes) on some of its aircraft. The average seat numbers for each cabin configuration are set out in the table below:

Aircraft2-class3-class4-class
A380615495488

The twin-aisle A380 interior typically allows cabin configurations of ten seats per row in economy class on the lower deck, and eight seats per row in economy class on the upper deck. Premium economy is typically seven, or eight seats per row, depending on which deck is used. Business class typically has six seats per row, and first class has four seats per row.

I researched actual seating plans for carriers with large 777 fleets such as Cathay Pacific, Lufthansa, American Airlines, Air New Zealand, British Airways, Qatar Airways, Emirates, Singapore Airlines, and United Airlines to find typical seat numbers for two, three, and four-class cabin configurations:

  • American Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, and Singapore Airlines operate 777-200ERs and 777-300ERs with four-class seating layouts carrying between 234 and 283 passengers
  • Air New Zealand, American Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Emirates, Qatar Airways, and United Airlines operate 777-200s, 777-200ERs, 777-LRs, 777-300s, and 777-300ERs with three-class seating layouts carrying between 309 and 350 passengers
  • Cathay Pacific, Emirates, and Qatar Airways operate 777-200LRs, 777-300s, and 777-300ERs with two-class seating layouts carrying between 283 and 398 passengers

Boeing data shows that the 777 variants can carry between 317 and 426 passengers in typical two-class seating configurations.

The twin-aisle 777 typically has three to four seats abreast in first-class cabins, four to six seats in business class (with eight seats abreast in British Airways’ opposing seat’ layout), eight seats in premium economy, and nine or ten seats per row in economy class.

Boeing 777-200ER

Customers and Orders

Airbus delivered 251 A380s to Air France, ANA, Asiana, British Airways, China Southern, Emirates, Etihad, Korean Air, Lufthansa, Malaysia Airlines, Qantas, Qatar Airways, Singapore Airlines, and Thai Airways.

Emirates is by far the A380’s largest customer, accounting for almost 50% of the total A380 orders. Singapore Airlines is the second largest customer accounting for around 10% of orders.

Airbus A380 Orders and Deliveries by Airline

By the end of October 2022, Boeing had received 2,352 orders for the 777 in total since its launch in 1990. The most popular 777 to date is the 777-300ER which received a total of 880 orders, or 37.4% of the total 777 orders.

The top 777 customers (all variants) to date (end of October 2022) are Emirates which has ordered a total of 296 777s, followed by Qatar Airways which has ordered 159 777s. United Airlines is the top US customer with 127 777 orders so far.

As of the end of October 2022, there are 445 unfulfilled orders for the 777, as follows:

  • 777-300ER – 6 aircraft
  • 777-X (777-8 and 777-9) – 353 aircraft, with nearly two-thirds of these going to Middle-Eastern carriers
  • 777F – 86 aircraft

Boeing 777 Customers

Airbus A380 vs. Boeing 777: Summary

Both the A380 and the 777 widebodies tend to serve long-haul markets. Not surprisingly, the double-deck A380 is, in most respects, larger than the single-deck 777. And, of course, with two decks, the A380 carries more passengers, typically 500 to 600. However, some 777s can accommodate more than 400 passengers.

The 777 has been around a lot longer than the A380, first flying commercially in 1995, and evolving through numerous variants. The A380 first flew commercially some 12 years later in 2007. Despite its later start, the single-variant A380 is no longer in production, whereas the 777 is still going strong, having evolved through numerous variants.

The 777 is a far more commercially successful aircraft than the A380 and has received almost ten times as many orders as the A380. The A380 broke the mold in terms of commercial aircraft design with its two decks, but its tenure has been relatively short. However, with the last A380 rolling off the production line in 2021 it is likely to remain in the skies for some decades to come alongside the newer variants of the continuously evolving and improving 777.

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