Even before the global health crisis struck, it was already well-known that the A380’s popularity was in decline. Indeed, Airbus had officially canceled the program in February of 2019, while Air France had already scheduled a phasing-out of the type. Of course, the events of 2020 expedited the removal of the A380 from some fleets around the world. So, as we begin a new year, which airlines have the largest collections of A380s?
The Middle Eastern giant
The obvious answer for the largest A380 fleet is Dubai-based Emirates. The airline has a total of 121 superjumbos, including the last one ever to be built. This particular aircraft was delivered in December of 2021, marking a firm end to A380 production.
As of this article’s publication, data from Planespotters.net indicates that, of these 121 aircraft, 57 are in active service while 64 are listed as parked. This means that just 47% of Emirates’ A380s are operational and flying passengers.
Where are these aircraft flying? Well, London Heathrow to Dubai is the world’s number-one route in January if measured by available seat miles. This is due to a relatively high frequency with either eight or nine daily departures.
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Southeast Asian superjumbos
Singapore Airlines comes in second place for the largest number of A380s. Although it is just one down from Emirates on our list, its fleet of 17 quadjets pales in comparison to Emirates’ 121.
Sadly, just five of these 17 aircraft are currently operational- a paltry 29%. The remainder sit parked, waiting out ongoing travel restrictions. While most of Singapore Airlines’ A380 fleet went into long-term storage in the Australian desert, many of these were “repatriated” to Changi Airport over the past year- particularly for the purposes of cabin refurbishment. Still, four of these remain at Alice Springs, currently enduring the Australian summer.
A tie for third place
Tied for third-largest A380 fleets are British Airways and Australian carrier Qantas. Both of these airlines have 12 superjumbos. Lufthansa would have taken this spot, but the German airline retired all 14 of its A380s due to the pandemic.
British Airways has five of its 12 A380s active and flying, while the rest remain parked across various corners of the world (Teruel, Doha, Madrid, and London). Qantas has just one of its 12 listed as active. The majority of its inactive A380s remain in long-term storage in Victorville, California.
Third place rival?
It’s hard to believe that an A380 fleet could actually grow in these times. This is especially true considering the fact that production has ended and a second-hand market is all but dead for the type. However, this particular scenario is more of a technicality.
Korean Air has 10 A380s in its fleet while rival carrier Asiana has six. However, the former is in the process of acquiring and merging with the latter. Once this deal is finalized, we would technically have all aircraft under one airline, making for a total fleet of 16 A380s. Of course, the merger won’t take place until 2024- and the airlines could decide to retire some of their A380s by then. Still, the combined number as it now stands would overtake British Airways and Qantas but is just shy of Singapore Airlines’ 17.
It seems almost guaranteed that Emirates will keep its top spot as the largest Airbus A380 operator. However, it will be interesting to see how this list changes in the next few years in terms of third and fourth place.
Were you surprised with any of the airlines on this list? Let us know by leaving a comment.