End of Airbus A380 approaching: ‘Corona crisis has accelerated phase-out’
More and more airlines want to get rid of the Airbus A380 at an accelerated pace. Initially, the superjumbo would be phased out in 2022, but airlines are forced to take the type out of use due to the corona crisis. Air France, Lufthansa and Emirates, among others, have already indicated that they will fly less or no A380 at all.
Emirates is the world’s largest customer with 115 aircraft in the fleet. The company owes its name recognition in large part to the enormous device. It is still waiting for eight planes. Emirates would now be in talks with manufacturer Airbus about a possible cancellation.
Fifteen years ago, the A380 was Airbus’ answer to the great success of the Boeing 747. The double-deck aircraft is the largest passenger aircraft in the world and, depending on the layout, can accommodate up to 800 passengers. Many airports, including Schiphol, had to make adjustments to receive the huge aircraft.
“It was a prestige object, but it actually had no future,” said aviation expert Benno Baksteen. “It was a very interesting aircraft, a very interesting design, but it was too big to be optimal and too big for the market.”
According to Baksteen, the A380 was “an impressive thing”, but not ideal for flying. “Airplanes become more and more efficient as they get bigger, but at 400 tons you have reached the optimum. The Airbus A380 was bigger.”
In addition, airplanes that many people fit in are not necessarily useful, the aviation expert says. “You can only use it on routes where a lot of people want to go to the same place at the same time. You could of course combine two 400-passenger aircraft into one, but then all those passengers would have to want all at the same time. They don’t want to always.”
Recovery takes years
Now that the number of passengers has fallen by 98 percent at Schiphol alone due to the corona crisis, the Airbus A380 aircraft are unlikely to fill up. Many people don’t dare to fly; the sector expects recovery to take years.
In an interview with The National, Emirates chief Clark spoke about the worst aviation crisis since World War II. All 115 Emirates superjets are now grounded and the question is how many will return.
“You can see that a number of companies were already disposing of the A380,” says Baksteen. “This is now accelerated by the corona crisis, because for the time being you no longer need them.”
The appliances that are discarded are dismantled and recycled. Baksteen: “There are special companies for this, including at Twente airport. They specialize in picking up aircraft.”