The Airbus A380 Turns 15 Today

The Airbus A380 today turns 15. The giant of the skies took its first flight in France way back on this day in 2005 – a full 15 years ago. However, the project is winding down and soon to end due to a lack of demand.

The A380 arrived just as airline strategies were changing, and fuel prices were rising. Photo: Getty Images

The Airbus A380 is, unfortunately, a victim of its own design. The giant size of the aircraft means that it is suitable for very specific applications. Besides, a touted freight version of the plane never made it to market.

Given the current climate of the aviation industry, very few of the aircraft are currently in the skies. Additionally, some may never return as efficiency becomes ever more important, and twin-engined aircraft are favored.

15 years old

Fifteen years ago, on the 27th of April 2005, the Airbus A380 took to the skies for the first time in front of a large crowd and tremendous excitement. The giant of the skies was supposed to revolutionize air travel. In terms of passenger experience, it certainly has!

However, there’s another side to the story. For many airlines, the aircraft just doesn’t work out. Singapore Airlines and Air France have already started to retire aircraft that are barely a decade old. Other airlines have also mentioned the possibility of withdrawing the giant.

The much-loved A380 never did reach break even. Photo: Getty Images

As such, Airbus has pulled the plug on the Airbus A380. Near the end of the program’s life, Emirates was dragging their feet with regards to a future A380 order. Even during that period, demand for new A380 aircraft had tanked. The plane was using too much fuel and was hard to fill on all but the highest demand routes.

Airbus did attempt to reignite demand by launching the “A380plus” with snazzy new wingtips, among some other benefits. However, this relaunch was even less popular than the original A380. There were no takers for the update.

Eventually, the story culminated with Airbus officially abandoning the A380 project on Valentine’s Day 2019. The program had yet to break even.

What’s the future for the A380?

Right now, the A380’s future looks rather bleak. Given the current crisis that has hit the aviation industry, it is likely that some, if not many, will never fly again. Lufthansa has already said that six of its A380s won’t return to the skies. However, airlines such as Air France had said they would retire the A380 over the next couple of years.

Airbus, A380, Storage
Hundreds of Airbus A380s are currently grounded across the globe. Photo: Getty Images

It is possible that aircraft could face retirement before demand recovers. Airbus had been trying to nurture a second-hand market for the Airbus A380, however, with existing carriers struggling to utilize the aircraft, it’s unclear who would. Willie Walsh has previously said that British Airways would be interested in more A380s at the right price. However, the current crisis has likely changed this.

What do you think the future holds for the Airbus A380? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.