Lately, there has been a lot of talk about the death of the A380 but what does that mean? How does a relatively new model aircraft die?
The A380 is widely popular among passengers, but last month Airbus announced that it would stop production of the mega-jet in 2021, once the final aircraft has been delivered.
The news is disappointing for frequent flyers who preferred the engineering marvel that is the only commercial double-decker aircraft. Unfortunately for Airbus economics share no such sentiment. The four-engine superjumbo has become the most expensive aircraft to operate in what’s becoming a twin-engine world. While the capacity of the plane outbids any other aircraft with the ability to seat anywhere between 550-800 passengers, depending on configuration; airline economics is all about filling seats. The more vacant seats, the more an airline can lose, so that’s why many airlines are opting for easier to fill options such as the Boeing 787 and the Airbus A320 Neo.
The announcement comes as no surprise given the aircraft accounted for just 2% of Airbus deliveries in 2018.
Dubai-based Emirates has the largest share of the mega-jets, having built its luxurious long-haul brand on the A380’s ability to connect the globe in comfort. It’s somewhat ironic that the airline which kept the jets in production for so long is also the airline that has led to its demise. Emirates had 53 A380’s on order, but now in a new agreement with Airbus, Emirates will take just 14 A380’s over the next two years. The final aircraft pushed out of the Toulouse factory are expected to replace some of the airlines earliest A380s, to reach a thoroughly revised fleet of 123 aircraft.
After spending billions on the biggest passenger plane in the world, Airbus has realised its projections for more than 1000 A380’s gracing the skies will become closer to 250.
All of this is not to say the A380’s will never fly again; simply some may be retired sooner than later.
Featured Image: Airbus A380 Wikipedia