Why the A380 superjumbo is staging a comeback

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(CNN) – An early, unlikely protagonist in the post-epidemic recovery of commercial aviation may be: the A380 Superjumbo.

The world’s largest passenger plane Seemed to be on the wreckage Just two years ago, because airlines were plagued with the spread of coronavirus. The entire fleet was grounded, many planes went into long-term storage, and some airlines, even with Air France, seized the opportunity to get rid of their A380 completely. His fleet is retiring In May 2020.
But now, as passenger numbers increase and air traffic returns to pre-epidemic levels, the aircraft is enjoying a resurgence. According to data from, more than half of the global fleet has already returned to service Flightreader 24.
The Emirates has the world's largest fleet of A380s.

The Emirates has the world’s largest fleet of A380s.

Pascal Pavani by Getty Images / AFP

Lufthansa was the latest carrier to announce Return of the aircraft – although not before 2023 – and there are reasons to believe that more A380s will gradually return to the skies.

“It’s definitely making a comeback,” says Geoff Van Cleveren, an aviation analyst and managing director of consultancy at IBA. “Operators were very reluctant to bring it back because it is a very expensive aircraft, but I think we are seeing the demand recover faster than people expect.”

More are coming back

Airbus produced and distributed 251 A380s, and 238 are available for service today, with the rest retired or scrapped. The plane, which is no longer in production, is popular with passengers and crew but not with airlines – Only 14 have been operated That to this day.

Of these, nine are currently flying: British Airways, All Nippon Airways, Emirates, Singapore Airlines, Qantas, Qatar, Asiana, Korean Airlines and China Southern Airlines. Some of these already have plans to put their A380 back into service.

For example, Singapore Airlines is currently flying 10 A380s out of its fleet of 12, but CNN Travel has confirmed that the remaining two are currently being retrofitted and will rejoin the fleet soon. Korean Airlines also said it would bring back a third A380 from its fleet of 10, joining the two that are already in service.

Qantas, which operates three of its 12 A380s on the Sydney-Singapore-London route, confirmed to CNN Travel that it aims to bring a total of six back into service before the end of the year, with plans to restore four more. By 2024 (the other two are to be deleted).

The emirate, the largest A380 operator with 123 aircraft, is also moving forward. “Today we work […] “More than half of our A380s,” says Richard Juzbury, the UK’s divisional vice president at the Emirates. “By the end of the year, we aim to operate about 90 A380s across our network.” That means more than a dozen A380s currently flying will join.

This The very last A380 Ever produced, in late 2021, went to the Emirates. It includes the premium economy segment in a handful of Emirates A380s – the middle ground between basic economy and business class.

It has proved so popular that the airline plans to retrofit its 67 A380s with it, starting in 18 months and later this year. In that configuration, the first, with four classes including business, premium economy and economy, the aircraft can seat 484 passengers. In the densest, only two-class configuration with business and economy, the Emirates A380s have a capacity of 615 passengers.

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Strict sales

There are many reasons why airlines return to superjumbo. “There is a lack of wide-body capacity, as some operators like British Airways have retired older aircraft such as the Boeing 747. There are also some problems with production of the new A350 and beyond. So some airlines need capacity,” says Van. Is. Cleveren.

Not only that. For some airlines, it makes sense to put the aircraft back in service because the value of the aircraft has dropped so much that it is no longer possible to sell it.

“Some operators have realized that it is a very difficult aircraft to sell, for many different reasons. If you do not have an A380 you will definitely not bring it into your fleet, as it is very risky and expensive,” says Van. Says. Cleveren.

“The price of the 10-year-old A380 dropped 60% from the previous epidemic to $ 30 million compared to $ 76 million, which is quite phenomenal. So a lot. [airlines] They think they can run it, because they have to spend money to get it in the air. “

Two airlines, Thai and Malaysia have in fact put all their A380s up for sale, but no buyers have been found yet. So far the only other holdout is Etihad; The Abu Dhabi-based airline has 10 in its fleet, but it is not operating a single one and currently has no firm plans to do so.

Short life

Emirates has recently launched a new A380 cabin, including premium economy class.

Emirates has recently launched a new A380 cabin, including premium economy class.

Emirates Group

Compared to the gloomy predictions of two years ago, now may be the time to imagine a more rosy future for superjumbo.

“I think most airlines will continue to operate aircraft for the rest of their lives,” says Van Cleveren. “The question mark is whether that lifespan is 18 to 25 years, which is the lifespan of most aircraft. If you compare it to a new generation of aircraft, it’s not really particularly fuel efficient, so it indicates that its average age Will come down. “

Because the Emirates has so many A380s, the fate of the plane will largely be in its hands. “I think they’ll all fly again, because they’re so important to their business model,” says Van Cleveren.

Dubai-based airlines continue to show strong support for the aircraft.

Emirates President Tim Clarke said Airline ratings That once the A380 is gone, it will leave a gap that cannot be filled by any other aircraft currently in production: “I will double the size of the other A380 because we now have a zero-emission engine, probably with four. Three engines, “He added.

Richard Juzbury of the Emirates says that right now, the A380 continues to be well received by customers around the world and will remain the airline’s flagship aircraft for many years to come.

“For us, the iconic double-decker redefines the travel experience and will continue to be an important pillar of our network plans.”

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