MIAMI – Today in Toulouse (TLS), the final Airbus A380 to be delivered has rolled out of Hangar 40, Airbus’ A380 Assembly line. In a Tweet, Julie Kitcher, EVP of Communications at Airbus commented on the event.
The Final Airbus A380
The last A380 will be delivered to Emirates (EK). MSN 272 will be equipped with four Rolls-Royce Trent 972 engines. The aircraft’s future registration is yet unknown. EK is the largest operator of the type.
Last February, Airbus announced it would stop production of the A380. EK then announced that it would reduce superjumbo orders and instead ordered a total of 70 Airbus A350 and A330neo. Once delivered, the airline will have 123 A380 minus the ones that will be retired.
The Airbus A380
After many years of researching, Airbus decided in 2000 to go ahead with the A380 project, previously branded A3XX. It received 50 firm orders from six operators. These were EK, Singapore Airlines (SQ). Air France (AF), Batavia Air (7P), Qantas (QF), and Virgin Atlantic (VS).
Three months after its reveal, it flew for the first time on April 27 in 2005. It completed different tests worldwide, before receiving the type certification on December 14, 2006. During the destructive wing strength certification test in February 2006, it failed 4% short of the required 150% level.
After delays, Airbus concentrated on the passenger version over the cargo one, which resulted in cancelations and conversions. The manufacturer delivered the first aircraft to SQ on October 15, 2007, which operated the first flights 10 years later.
Orders for the A380 significantly fell and in 2017 and Airbus said that it would not develop the A380neo. Two years before, the company said that the development cost was €15m. However, some experts estimated a €25m amount. From 2013, the only new orders were from EK (22) and ANA (three).
After Airbus announced the end of A380 production, it would still build 17 aircraft, totaling 251 built. At the time, Airbus said that it lost money with each aircraft built, let alone making up for the development costs. The preference of the point-to-point system over the hub-and-spoke method also hardened the job of the aircraft.
In addition, COVID-19 made the situation even worse for Airbus. Before the crisis, SQ was the only airline retiring the superjumbo. AF retired all A380 (analysis), QF grounded six of them along with many other airlines. Carriers are now retiring most of their four-engine planes, which include the A380.
Featured image: Emirates A380. Photo: Marco Macca – @aviator_ita