MIAMI – The third and final Airbus A380 destined for All Nippon Airways (ANA) took flight for Japan yesterday in its unique Orange Turtle livery. The flight took place 14 years after the first delivery of the type to Singapore Airlines (SQ).
The Airbus A380-800 with the registration JA383A left Toulouse-Blagnac airport (TLS) soon before 18:00 on Friday, October 15, 2021, with the destination Tokyo’s Narita International Airport (NRT). The last Airbus A380 delivered from Toulouse was Flight NH9398. The other two will be delivered to Emirates (EK) in Hamburg.
As reported by aviation24.be, a large crowd gathered around the airport to watch the plane take off and pay their respects to the large carrier that has dominated Toulouse’s skies for many years.
The First ANA A380
In March 2018, ANA, the only five-star airline in Japan, had the main sections of its first Airbus A380 arrive at Toulouse for final assembly. It was to be the first of three A380 superjumbos that the airline would receive after it became the first Japanese carrier to order them back in 2016.
At the time, ANA said the plane would be used initially on the Tokyo-Honolulu route which was currently operated by the carrier’s Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner. The first A380 was delivered in 2019, painted in a special “Honu” Hawaiian Green Sea Turtle livery which is a symbol of good luck and prosperity.
The Last Built A380
The last-ever produced Airbus A380 aircraft took off on its first test flight in Toulouse in March of this year, marking the end of an era for the superjumbo.
The Airbus A380, MSN 272, took off for its first test flight from Toulouse Blagnac Airport (TLS), France, as the aircraft (temporarily registered as F-WWSH) was being prepared for delivery to EK to become its 118th double-decker.
The airline, the type’s largest customer, is currently awaiting the delivery of the final two A380s, including MSN 272 seen in the video. The latest A380 delivery for EK took place in mid-December 2020. According to Airbus Orders & Deliveries data from March, EK had 123 Airbus A380 aircraft on order, with a total of 251 A380 aircraft being delivered.
While airlines such as EK, British Airways (BA), and Qantas (QF), and a few other airlines, will fly the double-decker on certain routes, MSN 272 would be the last A380 ever made, as Airbus and EK announced on February 14, 2019, that the carrier would reduce its A380 backlog by 39 aircraft.
Airbus had also stated at the time that the development of its Superjumbo would end in 2021 due to a lack of substantial backlog, with no basis to continue production. Alas, the shrink in the A380’s backlog was inevitably sped up by the pandemic.
A number of operators of the superjumbo, including Air France (AF) and Lufthansa (LH) made the decision to retire their A380s in 2020 as a result of the uncertainty regarding international travel. In addition, Thai Airways (TG) decided to put its A380 up for sale back in December 2020.
16 Years of the Airbus A380
The first completed A380 rolled out of the Airbus hangar on January 18, 2005. Registered F-WWOW, the type was one of five Airbus Superjumbos used for flight testing and demonstration. Three months later, on April 27, the aircraft took to the skies for the first time, piloted by Airbus Chief Test Pilot Jacques Rosay.
Although the first Airbus A380 entered into service with SQ in October of 2007, the superjumbo’s development began back in 1988, in an effort to compete with the Boeing 747 and its dominance of the large aircraft long-haul market.
Since the production start of the type, affectionately known as the flying whale, close to 300 Arbus convoys have paraded through the rural town of Levignac, France, carrying parts from the company’s production facilities located in Saint-Nazaire, France, to the final assembly line.
Featured image: ANA A380 JA383A at Hamburg-Finkenwerder Airport (XFW). Photo courtesy: Airbus