- 251 Airbus A380 produced and delivered
- Airbus to focus on A220, A320neo and A350
Airbus marked a sad chapter as it is shuttering the A380 program for good after delivering its last A380 superjumbo, bearing the registration A6-EVS to Emirates on December 16, 2021.
The quad-engine double-decker superjumbo, which launched to much fanfare in 2005 and cost $19.4 billion, struggled to break even, even with Dubai-based Emirates forming the bulk of the orders and the potential to develop an improved version dubbed ‘the A380neo’ which was eventually shelved.
With its ability to seat up to 853 passengers, Airbus at that time thought that the aircraft would be ideal for airlines looking to carry a large number of passengers through a ‘hub and spoke’ model at major airports which were becoming more congested as more and more people were flying.
As the A380 operated through the years, more and more passengers were demanding for more direct flights and frequencies as compared to multi-stop flights.
It called for both Airbus and Boeing to draw plans for a new aircraft from scratch which eventually became the A350XWB and 787 Dreamliner respectively. Combined with more efficient engines and lighter composite materials, these aircraft could fly much further and seats can be filled more readily than the superjumbo.
The COVID-19 pandemic placed a final nail in its coffin, with most airlines such as Air France and Lufthansa retiring the superjumbo due to cost pressures and coming to a realization that a twin-engine widebody would just be the right aircraft going forward.
Emirates, on the other hand, is embracing the superjumbo with open arms as the airline has the largest A380 fleet at 123 aircraft. The aircraft allowed the airline to reap its rewards as it is able to offer lower airfares and due to its location, Emirates was able to carve out a niche market for the A380.
Similarly, Boeing is ending its Boeing 747 program in late 2022 with the final Boeing 747-8F delivery to Atlas Air amid lackluster sales and airlines favoring their newer 787 Dreamliner and the upcoming 777X aircraft.
It would mark a true end to four-engine aircraft production after more than half a century.