14 years ago today, Singapore Airlines took delivery of the first Airbus A380. The delivery was a time of excitement for the manufacturer and the airline given the start of the program. Yet, fast forward 14 years, the aircraft has been scrapped, and Airbus is bringing production to a halt.
Before the pandemic was even a thought, Airbus was already making plans to end the A380 program. Singapore Airlines had started to retire its oldest aircraft, and Air France became the first airline to outline its entire A380 retirement program. As a result of suppressed demand for well over a year, many more A380s found themselves unwanted.
Just ten years in the skies
The first Airbus A380 was delivered exactly 14 years ago today, on October 12th, 2007. The aircraft, registered as 9V-SKA, was delivered by Airbus with the serial number 003 at over a year old. It had first flown on May 7th, 2006, according to data from ch-aviaion.com.
This Airbus A380 became a trailblazer for the A380 program, soon entering service and showing the aircraft’s impressive passenger experience to the world. According to historical schedule data from aviation data experts Cirium, the aircraft’s first passenger flight took it from Singapore to Sydney on October 28th, 2007.
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Sadly, this aircraft didn’t have a long life ahead of it. It seems as though Singapore Airlines likes to operate a younger fleet. That is to say, ch-aviation.com lists its oldest active passenger aircraft as a Boeing 777-300ER registered as 9V-SWB. This aircraft is just 14.95 years old.
9V-SKA never reached such an age. The aircraft left the Singapore Airlines fleet on June 11th, 2017, less than a decade after it had entered service. The aircraft was returned to its lessor, Dr. Peters Group, and flew to Tarbes, a storage facility in France.
Tarmac Aerosave scrapped the aircraft in 2019. According to the company, it could recycle over 90% of the aircraft’s total mass. Some of the aircraft became spare parts for other A380s, while a section of the fuselage was turned into limited edition key tags by Aviationtag.
The future of the Airbus A380 program
While the story of the world’s first passenger Airbus A380 didn’t have a happy ending, the entire A380 program won’t draw to a close any time soon. Airbus is expected to deliver the last A380 to Emirates in December.
However, several other airlines remain committed to flying the A380 in the coming years. While some operators have canned the type, the majority will continue flying it. For example, Korean Air has said that it will retire its A380s within five years.
Singapore Airlines hasn’t given a date that it intends to retire its entire fleet. While the airline started with 24 aircraft, it is now down to 12. Meanwhile, the A380’s largest operator, Emirates, has committed to flying the giant of the skies through to the mid-2030s at least.
Have you flown on an Airbus A380? Let us know your experiences in the comments.