The coronavirus crisis and the collapse of traffic accelerated the end of production of the A380, flagship of Airbus.
Deemed unprofitable by airlines, the A380, the flagship of Airbus whose production was announced to have ended in February 2019, sees its end of life further accelerated by the coronavirus crisis and the collapse of traffic.
After the German company Lufthansa which indicated at the beginning of April that it intended in particular to withdraw from its fleet its six A380, it is Air France which announced that it stopped the exploitation of its nine planes, which was initially planned for end 2022.
And if the most important operator of the “Super Jumbo” thought as the successor of the mythical 747 of the American rival Boeing, the company Emirates, has not indicated what it intends to do with its 115 A380, its president Tim Clark affirmed that ‘with the pandemic the A380 was’ finished’.
Larger than a 747
Airbus had already announced in February 2019 the halt of deliveries for 2021 of its giant aircraft with 251 copies ordered by 14 customers, thus acknowledging that this industrial jewel appreciated by passengers for its comfort constituted a commercial failure.
The plane, whose development costs amounted to more than $ 18 billion, was sold for $ 445.6 million at the 2018 list price, the latest published by Airbus.
Larger than a 747, the four-jet engine that made its first flight just 15 years ago and entered service two years later, can carry from 575 to 850 passengers, thanks to the 550 m2 of its cabin.
But its gigantic size harms flexibility. The aircraft cannot land anywhere: with its two decks, it requires specific airport facilities for passenger embarkation and disembarkation.
The A380 offers the best cost at the market headquarters provided that it is 100% full, according to Sébastien Maire, aeronautical expert at Kea & Partners.
This was far from evident on many routes despite congestion at airports like London and Los Angeles.
By launching the A380 project, Airbus had bet on the development of mega-city “hubs”, served by a very large capacity aircraft, but which requires improvements and imposes the highest possible occupancy rate to ensure the profitability of lines.
A failed bet for the European aircraft manufacturer in a widebody market which was already in overcapacity before the crisis. Airbus had not seen the turning point of medium-capacity long-haul jets like the B787 “Dreamliner” from Boeing, which focused on point-to-point development, that is to say direct links, coming. He has since successfully replied with his A350.
((AFP / NXP)
Posted: 05/20/20, 9:52 p.m.