Actually, we’re already too late to report the disruptive innovation of the Airbus A380 enabling Emirates to put established airlines companies under pressure. However, after the Arab airline Emirates reduced its order, there was no basis for a continuation of production as Airbus announced in February 2019. Sadly, Airbus scheduled the last delivery of an A380 for 2021.
The Boeing 747 Successor
The Boeing 747 sat for a long time on the throne of the largest passenger aircraft in the world. Hence, Boeing and Airbus talked for three years about building a joint successor. However, there was no agreement due to various reasons. Therefore the Airbus engineers started in 1996 to develop a superjumbo under the name A3XX.
Airbus examined various versions of a superjumbo. In the end, they decided on a plane with two floors and gave this giant bird the name Airbus A380. Already at the end of 1999, France, Germany, Spain and Great Britain gave the green light for the building of this Superjumbo. Shortly afterwards, the project got presented to various potential buyers. Emirates and Air France were the first airlines to buy this new Superjumbo. Even before the production of the primary components began in 2002, Singapore Airlines and Lufthansa also opted for the A380.
The first Airbus A380 flight took off on April 27th, 2005 at 10:29 AM local time, with 6 people on board from Toulouse/France.
The event, which many aviation journalists have attended, was widely covered around the world.
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The first delivery took place on October 2007 to Singapore Airlines, which fitted 471 seats in three classes in their A380 – using the upper deck for business class passengers. The next three A380s were also delivered to Singapore Airlines before Emirates received its first Superjumbo in July 2008.
In September of the same year, the Australian Qantas followed as the third operator. In 2013, the 100th A380 went to Malaysia Airlines.
Airbus A380 in Action
While the Superjumbo mainly flies long distances, there are also ultra-short flights. Emirates has been operating from Dubai to Muscat since July 2019. The 340 kilometres were given with a flight time of 1:10 hours. The record of the currently longest flight with an A380 is also set by the same airline, namely from Dubai to Auckland with a distance of 14,193 kilometres and a flying time of 16:05 hours respectively. That is quite close to the longest scheduled flight with an Airbus A350-900ULR, 16,700 kilometres and a breathtaking 18:45 flight time between Singapore and New York Newark by Singapore Airlines.
Airbus A380 Destinations
At present, the A380 serves the following destinations based on various flight schedules and websites:
The Era of Giant Aeroplanes come to an end.
2013 was the last year with a firm order balance for the Superjumbo, with buyers ordering 42 A380s on balance. In the following year, there were only 13, in 2015, only two orders. In 2016 there were no orders at all, in 2017 the balance was minus two and in 2018 four, due to cancellations. 2019 began with further removal of eight A380 by Qantas
Hence it seems that the days of giant aeroplanes in the passenger business are over. Also, the previous Superjumbo, the Boeing 747 is built nowadays only as a freight version. Airbus had also planned a cargo version, the A380 F, but never implemented it. To date, Airbus delivered 234 A380s, 40 more are to follow. Irrespective of the recent unfavourable news and figures, the A380 has an excellent record in any case.
Airbus A380 and its enormous size
Even though the A380 is popular among passengers, it often proves difficult for airlines to fill its vast size. Boeing did not attack the four-engine A380 with its version of a giant aircraft, but modernised the 747 and built the 787 Dreamliner, a jet designed for greater efficiency and point-to-point connections.
Some journals already report that Air France wants to get rid of its 10 Airbus A380s by 2023 or 2024. Furthermore, Qatar Airways also intends to sell the Superjumbo in the next few years. To this end, British Airways, Qantas, Emirates and Lufthansa will operate the Airbus A380 until further notice.
Selected Airbus A380 Flights
Especially for the airline Emirates, the business model seems to base firmly on the Airbus A380 due to airport capacity issues. Probably now even more since Dubai halts the Mega-Airport Project “Al Maktoum International” as Gulf economies stumble. Despite this, various news channels lately reported that Emirates, with a total order of 123 Airbus A380s soon, will phase out the older models and that the number should stabilise at 115. This number will be reduced to 90 to 100 from 2025 onwards, although Emirates mentioned that A380s would still be in use in 2035.
So Emirates, China Southern, Thai Airways, All Nippon Airways ANA, Singapore Airlines, Malaysia Airlines and Korean Air remain loyal to the Airbus A380 for the time being. British Airways is even considering expanding its fleet.
However and this is good news for the Airbus A380 fans, the Superjumbo suddenly appears to operate for smaller airlines companies in Madagascar or Venezuela with the help of the Portuguese wet-lease specialist “Hi Fly”.
The Airbus A380 remains our favourite aircraft and we often explicitly choose longer routes with the A380 in service. Its majestic way to land, roll to the dock, and the gentle way back to the sky is unattainable. The space on board is unsurpassable. The plane is extremely quiet outside as well as inside and allows you to sleep without any problems, but unfortunately, you can hear the snoring of your seat neighbours.
We will undoubtedly miss the A380 and hope that Emirates and Singapore Airlines will use it for a long time to come. Sit back – connect your Apple Airpods and relax with Spotify.