Hamburg, Dubai With the delivery of the last A380, the aircraft manufacturer Airbus ended the chapter of the world’s largest wide-body aircraft on Thursday. The major A380 customer Emirates wants to receive the very last aircraft of this type ordered on the factory premises in Hamburg-Finkenwerder, a good 14 years after the first customer Singapore Airlines picked up the first A380 in Toulouse in autumn 2007.
The handover of the aircraft with the serial number MSN272 should go without a major celebration due to the corona, as Emirates has announced. The machine with the official identification A6-EVS is to leave Hamburg that same evening.
At the beginning of 2019, Airbus, under its then boss Tom Enders, decided that production of the world’s largest passenger jet would be prematurely discontinued. The double-decker passenger jet had been causing Airbus great concern for a long time. Hardly any airline had ordered the model. Airbus threatened to run out of orders.
Nevertheless, Airbus regards the A380 as a success story, as the group’s program director, Philippe Mhun, emphasizes. He calls the aircraft a “cornerstone” in the development of the multinational company from a joint venture of several companies “into a truly integrated company” – in technical, industrial and cultural terms. In addition, many of the A380 innovations later benefited the A350, says Mhun: “Without the 380, Airbus wouldn’t be Airbus today, without the 380, the 350 wouldn’t be the 350 today, and that’s something that is really important.”
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Emirates orders almost half of all A380s ever sold
Emirates has accepted a total of 123 copies of the double-decker aircraft from Airbus, almost half of all 251 A380s ever sold. However, the airline has already retired five A380s. Emirates boss Tim Clark has assured that the company will be the largest operator of the double-decker aircraft “also in the next two decades”.
Lufthansa, on the other hand, with 14 copies also one of the larger among the only 14 A380 customers, has officially closed the chapter. That was no longer an issue, boss Carsten Spohr had said. The machines are mothballed in Teruel, Spain, six of which Airbus has already taken back at an undisclosed price.
For many airlines, such planes are too big and use too much fuel with their four engines – that is not economical, especially if the giant jets are not fully occupied. American rival Boeing did the same to Airbus and announced the end of the 747 jumbo jet in mid-2020.
The impetus for the development of the giant aircraft was originally the idea of being able to transport as many passengers as possible with as few aircraft as possible on race tracks between major air traffic hubs. In the meantime, however, customer requirements have changed – airlines tend to prefer smaller twin-engine planes for as many direct flights as possible.
That is why the Airbus planes of the A320 family, for example, are a box-office hit, for the production of which in Hamburg and soon also in Toulouse the former A380 hangars are now being used. Airbus has great hopes for the latest variant, A321XLR, which, thanks to an additional tank in the fuselage and a correspondingly greater range, can also be used for transatlantic flights, for example from Germany to the east coast of the USA.
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