April 27, 2020 marks 15 years from the first flight of the famous A380 plane.
The A380 is a modern icon that has flown over 500,000 revenue flights carrying over 190 million passengers. This includes more than 300 commercial flights per day, which take off or land around the world every two minutes.
Flying with the A380 is a unique experience that introduces passengers to new standards of in-flight comfort, from first class to economy. As the world’s largest and most spacious passenger aircraft, its cabin allows travellers to stretch out in the widest seats in a calm and relaxing environment. With the unparalleled freedom it gives passengers to move about the aircraft, it’s no surprise that the A380 is a favourite in all cabin classes.
The double-deck A380 makes excellent use of its space to offer passengers attainable luxury. With enough room to install stylish first-class suites, an eye-catching bar or business areas, beautifully inviting cabin lighting and the quietest cabin in the sky, passengers can enjoy every aspect of the flight and, thanks to innovative cabin air supply technology, will arrive at the destination feeling inspired and ready to go. The A380 Forward and aft lower-deck cargo compartments are equipped with semi-automatic Cargo Loading Systems, which operate independently.
With air traffic continuing to double every 15 years, the A380 was designed to meet the needs of the passengers and airports, while also delivering the level of efficiency necessary to protect the environment for future generations.
It has two full-length decks with wide-body dimensions, meaning its two passenger levels offer an entire deck’s worth of additional space compared to the next largest twin-engine jetliner. With more seats than any other aircraft, the A380 offers solutions to overcrowding; needing fewer journeys to carry 60% more passengers, making it the perfect solution to airport congestion, fleet planning optimization and traffic growth.
Combining the most advanced aviation technology and an inspired cabin design, Airbus have created an aircraft that is celebrated for its outstanding quality in every aspect. Leading the industry in standards for innovation, experience and efficiency, it is adored by passengers, pilots and crew alike.
With its unique cabin architecture and the quietest cabin in the sky, the A380 has unmatched passenger appeal while airlines have unique revenue-generating opportunities thanks to its great cabin versatility.
The A380 has been voted as the best aircraft type by Global Traveler’s readers, confirming that the A380 is truly a passenger favourite.
Flying with the A380 is a unique experience and the flagship in comfort trends, from first class to economy.
As the world’s largest and most spacious passenger aircraft, its cabin allows travellers to stretch out in its wide seats in a calm and relaxing environment. With the unparalleled freedom it gives passengers to move about the aircraft, it’s no surprise that the A380 is a favourite in all cabin classes.
With enough room to install stylish first-class suites, an eye-catching bar or business areas, beautifully inviting cabin lighting and the quietest cabin in the sky, passengers can enjoy every aspect of the flight and, thanks to innovative cabin air supply technology, will arrive at the destination feeling inspired and ready to go.
Airbus studies started in 1988 and the project was announced in 1990 to challenge the dominance of the Boeing 747 in the long haul market. The A3XX project was presented in 1994; Airbus launched the €9.5 billion ($10.7 billion) A380 programme on 19 December 2000. The first prototype was unveiled in Toulouse on 18 January 2005, with its first flight on 27 April 2005. Difficulties in electrical wiring caused a two-year delay and the development cost ballooned to €18 billion. It obtained its EASA and FAA type certificates on 12 December 2006.
It was first delivered to Singapore Airlines on 15 October 2007 and entered service on 25 October. Production peaked at 30 per year in 2012 and 2014. However, Airbus concedes that its $25 billion investment for the aircraft cannot be recouped. On 14 February 2019, after Emirates reduced its last orders in favour of the A350 and the A330neo, Airbus announced that A380 production would end by 2021.
The full-length double-deck aircraft has a typical seating capacity of 525, though it is certified for up to 853 passengers. It is powered by four Engine Alliance GP7200 or Rolls-Royce Trent 900 turbofans providing a range of 8,000 nmi (14,800 km). As of December 2019, Airbus has received 251 firm orders and delivered 242 aircraft; Emirates is the biggest A380 customer with 123 ordered, of which 115 have been delivered.
In February 2019, Airbus announced it will end the A380 production by 2021, after its main customer, Emirates, agreed to drop an order for 39 of the aircraft, replacing it with 40 A330-900s and 30 A350-900s. Airbus will build 17 more A380s before closing the production line – 14 for Emirates and three for All Nippon Airways – taking the total number of expected deliveries of the aircraft type to 251. Airbus would have needed more than $90 million from the price of each aircraft to cover the estimated ~$25 billion development cost of the programme. However, the $445 million price tag of each aircraft was not sufficient to even cover the production cost, so with Airbus losing money on each A380, and orders evaporating, it makes economic sense to shut down production. Enders stated on 14 February 2019, “If you have a product that nobody wants anymore, or you can sell only below production cost, you have to stop it.”
One reason that the A380 did not achieve commercial viability for Airbus has been attributed to its extremely large capacity being optimised for a hub-and-spoke system, which was projected by Airbus to be thriving when the programme was conceived. However, airlines underwent a fundamental transition to a point-to-point system, which gets customers to their destination in one flight instead of two or three. The massive scale of the A380 design was able to achieve a very low cost for passenger seat-distance, but efficiency here within the hub-and-spoke paradigm was not able to overcome the efficiency of fewer flights required in the point-to-point system. Furthermore, American carriers had been using a multihub strategy, that would only justify the need for a handful of VLAs (very large aircraft with more than 400 seats) such as the A380, and having too few VLAs meant that they could not get achieve economy of scale to spread out the enormous fixed cost of the VLA support infrastructure. Consequently, the orders for VLAs slowed in the mid-2010s, as widebody twin jets now offer similar range and greater fuel efficiency, giving airlines more flexibility at a lower upfront cost.
So let’s say it again :
Happy birthday Airbus A380!
* sources: airbus.com and wikipedia.org