MIAMI – Emirates Airlines (EK) has officially retired the first Airbus A380 from its fleet. The 12-year-old A380-800, which is registered A6-EDB, was phased out by EK in early June.

The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a massive toll on long-haul service, as passenger concerns and travel restrictions continue to wreak havoc on the airline industry.

Once touted as an ‘Eighth Wonder’, the A380 superjumbo is now considered to be extremely inefficient as passenger levels remain low. Air France (AF) and Lufthansa (LH) are among many who have begun to phase out aircraft in the A380 family.

The Fate of A6-EDB

A6-EDB departed from EK hub airport Dubai (DXB) at 3:55 pm local time and will be landing in France at Tarbes-Lourdes-Pyrenees Airport (LDE) shortly before 8:00 pm.

The fate of this particular aircraft is unknown at this time. With the current state of the industry, most airlines are looking to eliminate superjumbo aircraft rather than take on more.

Similarly, AF chose to scrap one of their A380’s upon retirement in late 2019. In this case, the decommissioning process took 11 months.

Emirates Airbus A380 registered A6-EET. According to EK President Tim Clark, A380’s may continue to have purpose post-coronavirus. PHOTO: Luca Flores/Airways

A Future for Emirates A380’s?

Contrary to how it appears, this is not the end of the line for Airbus A380’s in the EK fleet. Speaking to The Times earlier this year, EK President Tim Clark remains firm that the Dubai-based carrier will continue to utilize the superjumbo in the near future.

“As demand returns, and given the slot availability at prime hubs, there will be a place for it. I’m hoping by April 2022, all our A380s will be flying again”, said Clark. “The A380 has defined us.”

Despite the current challenges, Tim Clark and EK are looking well into the future for a fleet of aircraft which average less than a decade old.

Featured Image: An Emirates Airbus A380 as it departs. Photo: Luca Flores/Airways