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  • Writer's pictureMalcolm Lu


Updated: Nov 21, 2020

Is this the beginning of end of the Super Jumbo?

May 21, 2020 – Air France – KLM group has announced yesterday (20th May 2020), that their fleet of 9 Airbus A380s would be completely retired with immediate effect. The early retirement was a direct result of the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, that took a major financial toll on the aviation sector around the world.

Though the Retirement has come as a major shock, it should come as no surprise that the Airbus A380s would be the first to go.

The History of the Airbus A380

The Airbus A380 was introduced into the market in April 2005, as a competitor crusher to Boeing's 747 and other high capacity wide body aircraft. Late into the glory days of Quad jets, the 500-800-seater aircraft primary market routes were long haul transcontinental and intercontinental destinations, connecting major hubs around the world. There were even plans to produce the Airbus A380F, with Federal Express, an American based air freight company, indicating interest to procure the superjumbo for its airfreight operations.

The introduction of the Airbus A380 posed major challenges for airports around the world as the airports had to upgrade existing infrastructures such as the addition of a second level boarding gate room and aerobridge, upgrading taxiways and runways to be wider to fit the behemoth size of the wings as well as expansion of passenger services to accommodate the higher number of people being carried by the A380.

For a time, the A380 was hailed as a major success for Airbus, it has since proved otherwise. Airbus has been unable to annul the cost of research, development and production of the superjumbo. The manufacturer has also projected the closure of the Airbus A380 production lines in the near future, with 0 new orders for the aircraft in 2020.

What are airlines doing with their A380s?

With the current COVID-19 situation, airlines have been flying their Airbus A380s to storage facilities around the world, for instance Singapore Airlines has flown a number of their Airbus A380s to Alice Springs, Emirates, operating a 30-minute ferry flight to Dubai World Center from Dubai International Airport for storage and while some airlines are storing their superjumbo fleet, others are retiring part of their Airbus A380 fleet, with the likes of Lufthansa following the footsteps of Air France, however only axing half of their fleet of 14 Airbus A380s.

Moving on, what will the future hold for the A380s?

It is still a question where the new influx of retired airbuses will go to. There is a possibility that some may be parted out for spare parts to maintain their current fleet of 380s, while others may be recycled and upcycled as drink cans or aviation tags, with the former already taking place as of writing this article. Airlines such as the likes of British Airways have shown interest in procuring older second-hand Airbus A380s and HiFly Malta, a Maltase-based Aircraft leasing company specializing in dry leasing aircraft has taken delivery of an Airbus A380 that was previously owned by Singapore Airlines for its leasing operations.

Though the immediate future for the King of the Skies seems to be all gloom and doom, judging from the current COVID-19 pandemic, this may not turn out to be so bad as there will be a healthy second-hand market for the Airbus A380 that will open up opportunities for other airlines to operate the Airbus A380.



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