Some industry experts called last week’s announcement that Airbus will cease production of the A380 a non-event; rumors of the airplane’s demise had been circulating for years. Airbus made the final decision after sales of the giant airplane dwindled with no new orders over the past few years. Recently, the company also lost an order for 40 of the giant airliners from Emirates, an airline already operating 108 A380s. Qantas Airlines canceled its order for eight of the airplanes.
The A380, the largest passenger aircraft ever constructed, is capable of carrying as many as 800 passengers in a variety of cabin configurations. While the airplane’s capacity was unmatched, it proved useful only on very long hauls – in excess of 5,000nm – carrying an enormous number of passengers, a problem that limited interest to only those carriers with suitable routes.
The A380 required updated infrastructure, such as wider taxiways, redesigned dual boarding bridges and even a special ground logistics program to move the A380’s fuselage and wings from surrounding factories in France to Toulouse where the aircraft was assembled. Many airlines decided purchasing smaller aircraft like the A330Neo and the A350 was a better plan to increase their operational flexibility. No U.S. airline ever purchased the A380.
The fate of the thousands of Airbus employees involved in A380 construction is unknown. Airbus announced only that production will cease sometime in 2021.