IF you frequently fly on the Dubai-based Emirates, chances are you would have experienced traveling on the wide-body Airbus A380 aircraft, the world’s largest passenger airliner.
The backbone of its global network, Emirates’ A380s have famously been decked out to include an expansive all first and business class upper deck as well as a bar and shower suites. They sure do scream luxury.
But travelers will soon see less of these aircraft.
Last week, Airbus announced it would stop making the plane in 2021 due to a lack of demand.
“It’s a painful decision for us,” the Associated Press quoted Airbus CEO Tom Enders as saying. “We’ve invested a lot of effort, a lot of resources, a lot of sweat…but we need to be realistic.”
Emirates had more A380s on order but it had agreed to replace some A380s with A350 and smaller A330 planes.
“While we are disappointed to have to give up our order, and sad that the program could not be sustained, we accept that this is the reality of the situation,” Emirates CEO and chairman Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum said in a statement.
“For us, the A380 is a wonderful aircraft loved by our customers and our crew. It is a differentiator for Emirates. We have shown how people can truly fly better on the A380.”
While this largely affects Emirates, which is the largest operators of the A380s, the move will also affect other major Asian airlines such as Singapore Airlines, Korean Air, Malaysia Airlines, China Southern Airlines, Etihad Airways, and Qatar Airways, to name a few.
Singapore Airlines, the A380’s launch partner, set a gold standard for the aircraft with its award-winning hotel-suite style accommodation on its superjumbos.
Etihad Airways, on the other hand, fitted its A380s with an entire opulent apartment located in the corner of the upper deck which has a living room, double bedroom, ensuite shower, and its own dedicated butler.
The A380 project came into fruition to challenge the dominance of the Boeing 747 in the long haul market. It can carry twice as many people as the 747.
Airbus had banked on airlines wanting massive planes capable of carrying as many passengers as possible on their busiest routes but on a smaller number of flights.
However, the plane’s four engines make it more expensive to operate compared to modern two-engine jets and its size required some airports to modify taxiways and airport terminals to accommodate the aircraft.
To add on, competitor Boeing was busy making smaller planes which could make longer trips more frequently.
Although the A380’s days are numbered, it is not due to disappear from the skies immediately. Airbus had announced it would continue to offer mechanical support so the aircraft may have more years of soaring through the clouds, maybe even well into the next decade.
Currently, there are more than 200 of the A380s in service.