Say goodbye to the world's biggest passenger plane

2019-02-14 14:00
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European aviation giant Airbus said Thursday it will stop making its superjumbo A380 in 2021 for lack of customers, abandoning the world's biggest passenger jet and one of the aviation industry's most ambitious and most troubled endeavours.

Barely a decade after the 500-plus-seat plane started carrying passengers, Airbus said in a statement that key client Emirates is cutting back its orders for the plane, and as a result, "we have no substantial A380 backlog and hence no basis to sustain production."

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The decision could hurt up to 3 500 jobs, Airbus said. The company is releasing its 2018 annual earnings later on Thursday and said the decision is expected to impact the results.

The airline however will continue to grow with Airbus's newest generation, ordering 40 A330-900s and 30 A350-900s, and this ramp up might offer internal mobility for those affected by the cancellation of the A380, says Airbus.

The decision is a boon for rival Boeing and a crushing blow for Airbus. The European plane maker had hoped the A380 would squeeze out Boeing's 747 and revolutionise air travel as more people take to the skies.

Instead, airlines have been cautious about committing to the costly plane, so huge that airports had to build new runways and modify terminals to accommodate it, including Cape Town International in South Africa. The double-decker planes started flying in 2008 and seated more than 500 passengers.

The A380 had troubles from the start, including tensions between Airbus' French and German management and protracted production delays and cost overruns. Those prompted a company restructuring that cost thousands of jobs.

Industry experts initially expected A380s to long outlast the 747, which is celebrating its 50th birthday this year.

When it started taking on passengers in 2008, the A380 was hailed for its roominess, large windows, high ceilings and quieter engines. Some carriers put in showers, lounges, duty free shops, bars on both decks.

INFOGRAPHIC: The top passenger plane models used by airlines 

On which routes can you fly the A380?

The good news for travellers is that there is still opportunity to fly on these big planes as a number of different airlines still, and will likely continue to, make use of the A380 model.

Here are some of the routes that will get you on the world's biggest jet:

  • Paris to Hong Kong with Air France
  • London to Johannesburg with British Airways
  • Dubai to Sao Paulo with Emirates
  • Frankfurt to Singapore with Lufthansa
  • Doha to Guangzhou with Qatar.


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