It has now been more than two years since Airbus announced the closure of its A380 program. This month, the final example to ever be produced completed its first flight. Despite this end to the production of the superjumbo, Airbus CEO Guillaume Faury is confident that the existing examples will continue to have a role to play in the future.
A future for the A380
The last 12 months have seen several carriers ground or even retire their A380 fleets. After all, the uncertainty caused by the coronavirus-induced downturn in demand has rendered the aircraft rather obsolete. Despite this, Airbus CEO Guillaume Faury is optimistic that, even after the close of its production, the A380 will remain an important aircraft.
Mr Faury took over as CEO from Tom Enders in April 2019, having previously worked in Airbus’s helicopter division. Speaking at today’s Eurocontrol Aviation StraightTalk Live event, he underlined his confidence in the double-decker jet. Faury stated:
“We think these are excellent planes for the future, and the A380 will continue to fly. (…) It will now be about supporting those planes as long as possible, and I’m sure many people will try to and will want to fly the A380 for what it is.”
Favored by passengers
One aspect in which the A380 excels is in what it offers in terms of passenger experience. This is one of the reasons that Faury is confident of it remaining an important aircraft despite its production having concluded. He stated that:
“It will probably remain the aircraft of choice for many, many passengers, because it is, indeed, a fantastic flight experience.”
The sheer size of the A380 helps its cabin to have a more spacious feel. Of course, these larger dimensions also have another advantage in terms of passenger experience. Namely, they leave extra space for additional features that smaller aircraft cannot accommodate.
For example, Emirates’ superjumbos feature first class showers and a business class bar. Meanwhile, Etihad’s A380 houses the luxurious Residence, a three-room suite like nothing else in the sky. With features like these, it’s easy to see why passengers love the aircraft.
Last example prepares for delivery
This month has seen Airbus reach a milestone that further signifies the closing of the book on A380 production. On March 17th, the last production example of the superjumbo made its first flight. It traveled between Airbus’s two main European facilities, departing from Toulouse, France and arriving in Hamburg, Germany. It is thought that it will be painted there.
The paint job is a key step towards preparing the aircraft for its delivery. Unsurprisingly, the aircraft is destined for Dubai-based UAE flag carrier Emirates, which is by far the type’s largest operator. The airline is planning to have its entire A380 fleet back in the skies by next year. 2022 will also see the delivery of the aforementioned final production A380 to Emirates.
Overall, the carrier plans to continue flying the superjumbo until the mid-2030s. This gives passengers a good 15 years to carry on enjoying the aircraft. If Mr Faury’s prediction comes true, it seems that many passengers will welcome this decision over the next decade and a half.
What do you think the future holds for the Airbus A380? Have you ever flown on the superjumbo? Let us know your thoughts and experiences in the comments!