Airbus Still Considers The A380 A Success

Earlier this year Airbus announced the end of the A380 program. Despite the aircraft not breaking even, Airbus considers the A380 as a success due to its impact on the A350. Airbus’ new CEO made the comments at a Toulouse press conference yesterday.

A380 Success
Airbus considers the A380 a success. Photo: Tom Boon – Simple Flying

The Airbus A380 is widely regarded as a marvel of aviation engineering around the globe. Due to its impressive size, it is capable of carrying hundreds of passengers between two points, however, its size would eventually prove to be the aircraft’s eventual downfall. As such, the Airbus A380 project never broke even, despite its potential.

A game changer?

The Airbus A380 was designed as a real gamechanger. With its two complete passenger decks, the aircraft was to transform passenger travel, and to some extent it did. In fact, the aircraft was well suited to some high-density long haul routes such as London to Los Angeles. The main USP of the aircraft was, however, one of its biggest problems.

Take Norwegian Air as an example. Due to the grounding of Boeing 787 aircraft, they found themselves in a position where they had to hire HiFly’s A380. They initially flew their usual schedule with the aircraft, but soon found out that New York did not have space along with the other A380s it had at that time.

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The A380’s giant size dictates that it needs a special infrastructure. Indeed, London Gatwick, which plays host to Emirates’ A380 has just one gate which the aircraft can use off of Taxiway Q. The aircraft isn’t able to taxi to any other gate. Indeed, when Airbus executives attempted to sell the A380 in India, they were met with infrastructure concerns.

Airbus A380 Success
The Airbus A380 is well suited to certain routes. Photo: Tom Boon – Simple Flying

A380 a success

At a press briefing in Toulouse, Airbus CEO Guillaume Faury told reporters he believed the Airbus A380 was a success. However, according to Leeham News, the reason is not what you might expect.

They report that the aircraft was a success as “the A380 led the path to the successful development and production of the successful A350 and the transformation of Airbus into what it is today.” Indeed, the A380’s introduction was fairly unsettled with an 18-month delay caused by faulty wiring. Meanwhile, the A350’s introduction went without a hitch.

Airbus A380 Success
The lessons learned from the A380’s introduction were put into practice with the A350. Photo: Tom Boon – Simple Flying

Interestingly, Leeham also reports on a question of finances asked by Reuters Aerospace News. Airbus received launch aid from Germany to the tune of $600m. However, this has not been paid back. The Reuters reported questioned why, if the project had been considered a success. Reports indicate that Airbus did not answer the question. Airbus will continue to support the A380 as long as it flies.

Do you consider the Airbus A380 to be a success or a flop? Let us know in the comments!

11 comments
  1. The A380 is by far the best passenger aircraft in the sky for medium to long haul flights. I fly it regularly and when booking always try to choose the A380! Probably ahead of its time and quite possibly will become a necessity when the skies become ever more crowded.

  2. The plane was built using 1990s technology (metal fuselage etc)

    Its actual operating cost per seat is very high because do not put maximum number of seats on it.

    But even if seat cost are high it’s capacity (even at non optimal) is bigger than all other planes. What it looses in seat costs it makes for in extra revenue. This makes it ideal for long and dense routes like London to Los Angeles etc. But there not enough dense routes to support routes.

    Airbus completely mis read market. They did not realise the move from hub system to point to point.

    How much of the development cost of 12.5 billion euros has been recovered through sales?

  3. Airbus is saying that they learned from all the failures associated with the A380 program in becoming a more competitive company, as witnessed by the A350 launch. That’s fine but on merit, the program was a fail and without governmental R&D support, would never have occurred to begin with.
    Be intellectually honest.

  4. Financial disaster, not to Airbus but to European taxpayers who heavily subsidized it and are not being paid back. Airbus top executives let ego overcome good market analysis, and Boeing ate their lunch with the (dead-on) point-to-point strategy of the 787. And frankly, was the A380 that advanced an engineering challenge? I understand passengers like it.

  5. Airbus can claim that the A380 was a success because it gave them the technical expertise to launch the A350; but, let’s not kid ourselves. The A350 was designed to counter Boeing’s 787. Period. Boeing read the tea-leaves correctly, and Airbus did not. In the interim, not only have European taxpayers been underwriting the development of the A380, they’ve also underwritten the development of most of Airbus’ other commercial offerings which is contradictory to rulings by the WTA and law. It is a fine aircraft – comfortable and quiet, and as was mentioned, never fully optimized from a passenger capacity perspective. On a ratio basis, it also could not handle the percentage of freight that other aircraft handle, and this also erodes its profitability to operators. Couple all those issues with the impact of “too large for infrastructure” and it is little wonder that it did not succeed commercially.

  6. The brief that the A380 was designed and built to is as relevant today as it was when first thought up. The big airports have only so many slots and a plane carrying more passengers addresses that. With reference to Airports like Gatwick, Auckland International Airport can have 3 A380’s sitting side by side at certain times of the year and I’ve not heard of any real drama processing them.
    Was it a success? As far as I know most think the DC10 and Lockheed L-1011 were success despite the thought they might not have made money for their manufaturers.
    Maybe we can use the saying, ‘The operation was a success but the patient died?’

  7. Like l had said a while back that A380 is “Sky King” and will remain as such for quite a while! Success or a flop? Well it all depends on which boat you’re in. But for me it was a total success, the demands will be in shortly! In fact the problem is, will they be able to cope with the demands eventually!? The real challenge here is, will they be able to get Godzilla (A380) to fly and safely, which they already had and now the trivial issues like longer runways, packing passengers, parking issues are to be sorted out with time and ingenuity! Also pay back what you owe! Never misread this “Yin Yang” philosophy for what goes around comes around! All the best Airbus! I am a #1 strongest Airbus supporter!

  8. Yes she’s a mighty plane a lovely aircraft and I hope to fly on one sometime there was talk of a A380 plus any chance of some being upgraded to the A380 plus or is that why Airbus has discontinued the A380 800 and not saying so as they can consontrate on the new Airbus A380 Plus or what’s the chances.

  9. Of course its a huge success. From a passenger’s perspective its the nicest, quietest, most comfortable plane to fly on.

    Its a real shame beancounters run airlines these days, instead of listening to paying customers !

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