As we all know, Airbus ended its A380 program last month. The last Airbus A380 is expected to leave the assembly line in 2021. Singapore Airlines has already started retiring some of its A380s, while a couple of airlines are still awaiting the delivery of the aircraft. With that being said, when will the Airbus A380 actually retire from all airlines?
Current Airbus A380 Operators
Let’s take a look at all airlines currently operating the Airbus A380. Here is the list:
- Air France
- ANA (to start service between Tokyo – Narita (NRT) and Honolulu (HNL) in May)
- Asiana Airlines
- British Airways
- China Southern Airlines
- Etihad Airways
- Hi Fly
- Korean Air
- Malaysia Airlines
- Qatar Airways
- Singapore Airlines
- Thai Airways
ANA and Emirates still have A380s on order. Additionally, Simple Flying reported last month that British Airways may buy used A380 aircraft to replace its aging fleet of Boeing 747s. Accordingly, even though some airlines are considering the retirement of their A380s, there is still demand from other airlines.
What are the A380 operators’ plans for their aircraft?
Most of the current A380 operators have not clearly communicated their plans for the aircraft. Singapore Airlines has retired four A380s so far; however, one of them is still in service for Hi Fly. The other two are being used for spare parts, and the fate of the fourth one is unknown.
Qatar Airways has announced that it will start retiring its aircraft once they hit the 10-year mark. Accordingly, the airline will start the retirement of its 10 aircraft in 2024.
Air France will retire half of its 10 A380s beginning at the end of this year. The other five aircraft, however, will be upgraded to the tune of 45 million Euro per aircraft starting next year. It appears that Air France has plans to operate the five aircraft for several years to come; otherwise, the airline would most likely not invest this much money in them.
Emirates was originally planning on retiring its A380s after 12 years in service. The first aircraft entered service in 2008, so its retirement would be just around the corner. Nonetheless, the airline still has 14 A380s on order. It will most likely use these aircraft to replace the A380s it is retiring. The airline is scheduled to receive its last A380 aircraft in 2021. If it will also operate this aircraft for 12 years, it looks like the airline will fly the A380 until 2033.
At this time it is impossible to predict when the Airbus A380 will actually retire from all airlines. I would assume that the A380 will remain in service for at least another decade. There are most likely several factors that will influence this date, however. A sharp rise in the cost of fuel would almost certainly accelerate the retirement of the aircraft. Additionally, a lack of replacement parts and support for the aircraft would also lead to a faster retirement.
With that being said, I believe that we will see the Airbus A380 on some routes for years to come.
When do you think the Airbus A380 will actually retire from all airlines?