MIAMI – Yesterday, the final Airbus A380 to be built completed its final test flight, the customer acceptance flight, for Emirates (EK), but not before drawing a large heart in the sky. 

According to FlightRadar24, the test flight was the most tracked in the skies, with over 38,000 users checking in to virtually witness history. 

Scheduled to be delivered later this month, the final A380 represents the end of an era for Airbus, which will now focus its efforts on A220, A320neo, and a330neo aircraft.

Photo: FlightRadar24

The A380 drew lots of attention during the pandemic, as some of the first aircraft to be moved to storage as passenger numbers dwindled. 

Dramatic photos of A380s lined up in dessert storage circulated the internet, quickly becoming token images for the effect of the pandemic on the travel industry. 

The recent return of the jumbo jets for airlines like British Airways and movements of A380s by Qantas marked a symbolic new beginning for the industry, as it begins to move toward recovery. 

Photo: Johann Heske/Airways

Space, Innovation, and Inflight Showers

With unprecedented amounts of space, the A380 became the platform for many inflight innovations, from the Singapore Airlines Suites, the Etihad Airways Residence, to Emirates’ famous inflight showers. 

As airlines aim to fill smaller aircraft with economy, premium economy and business class seats, the prevalence of first-class products will heavily be tested in the near future. 

The A380 became a key marketing feature for Emirates, whose fleet consists of 120 of the jumbo jets, by far the largest operator of the aircraft. 

Other operators include Singapore Airlines, Qantas, Korean Airlines, China Southern Airlines, Malaysia Airlines, Thai Airways, British Airways, Asiana Airlines Qatar Airways, and All Nippon Airways. 

Although few operators operate the aircraft, the A380s significance on the aviation industry is apparent, with the jumbo jet being one of the most recognizable aircraft in the skies. 

Photo: Luca Flores/Airways

What’s Next for the A380?

Despite the reintroduction of some A380s to the skies, the COVID-19 pandemic has proved perilous for the A380, with many airlines opting to quickly retire the type. 

Asiana Airlines and Korean Air, soon to be one airline, announced the retirement of all of its A380s by 2026.

Malaysia Airlines, Etihad Airways, and Thai Airways have already retired their A380s, opting to operate smaller aircraft as a means to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Qatar Airways, which already phased out half of its A380s, will retire its remaining A380s. 

Featured Image: Kochan Kleps/Airways