Coronavirus – A Death Sentence For The Airbus A380?

The current coronavirus pandemic has, unfortunately, claimed many human lives. However, it appears that the crisis could also be speeding up the end of the Airbus A380. Indeed, for one airline, the crisis has already forced a number of A380s into early retirement.

Airbus A380, Death Sentence, Coronavirus
Could coronavirus be a death sentence for the Airbus A380? Photo: Tom Boon – Simple Flying

The Airbus A380 is an interesting aircraft. Many across the aviation community love it, either for its unique looks, or the comfort it provides passengers. However, in a time were environmental considerations and profit margins are king, airlines were already looking to retire the type prior to the current crisis. Now a huge fall in demand is exasperating the situation.

A speedy exit?

Around the globe, many Airbus A380 operators are grounding their flying giants. With the exception of a few high demand rescue routes, such as New Zealand to Germany, there is insufficient demand to fill the 500 plus seats of the A380.

As such, the obvious candidate to be grounded first was the A380. After all, why fly a half-empty A380 when you could fly a full Boeing 777? This is the exact problem that has led to Lufthansa, Germany’s flag carrier, immediately and permanently decommissioning six Airbus A380s.

Lufthansa, Airbus A380, Munich
Lufthansa has announced six Airbus A380s will be retired immediately. Photo: Tom Boon – Simple Flying

The airline justified this action by saying the environmental as well as economic disadvantages of these aircraft types” must be taken into consideration.

The future of the aircraft type

While it’s impossible to say exactly what will happen to the Airbus A380 going forward, we could see fleets returning to the skies with fewer of the type. It is likely that the type won’t be retired any time soon, as it provides the backbone of the Emirates fleet; the airline currently has 115 of the type.

However, most if not all of Emirates’ Airbus A380s are currently grounded. At the Dubai Airshow, Sheikh Ahmed, CEO of the Emirates Group, told Simple Flying that the new Dubai World Central Airport was being built around the Airbus A380.

Other airlines had already begun to retire the Airbus A380 prior to the current crisis facing the aviation industry. In fact, two Airbus A380s previously operated by Singapore Airlines have already been torn apart. These two aircraft were the first two commercial aircraft of the type built by Airbus.

Emirates, Airbus A380, Dubai
Emirates will likely be operating the A380 for quite a few more years. Photo: Tom Boon – Simple Flying

Meanwhile, Air France has already begun to retire its first Airbus A380s as they reach 10 years of age. Earlier this year the first Air France A380 to be retired took its final flight to Knock in Ireland. Here it will be dismantled.

Apart from Air France, Lufthansa, and Singapore Airlines, no other airlines have publicly announced that they intend to reduce their Airbus A380 fleets any time soon. However, earlier this week, British Airways began ferrying half of its fleet of the giants to France for storage.

Do you think the current crisis will speed up the end of the Airbus A380? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

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