Late on October 4, two Airbus A380s and a Singapore Airlines Boeing 777 were towed from Changi Airport to Changi Exhibition Center, Singapore for dismantling. Not much is known about the Boeing 777, but two A380s, the largest passenger aircraft on the planet, were “reverted” after 11 years of operation. They were put into service with this airline in 2009 after Airbus handed them over.
With four turbofan engines, Airbus is the largest passenger plane in the world. It’s 40% wider than the Boeing 747-8. Passengers appreciate the A380 for the comfort and spaciousness it offers during long journeys. That is also the reason why these planes have a unit price of nearly half a billion dollars each.
Normally, an aircraft can be used for about 25 years. For next-generation aircraft such as the Airbus A380, it is not known how long it can remain operational before being scrapped because maintenance costs are too high and they become obsolete. more safety.
The 11-year lifespan of the two Airbus A380s that Singapore Airlines took to dismantle is clearly not related to the safety and operability of the aircraft. It comes from another story, related to the costs of operating giants in the context of the raging Covid-19 pandemic, which has paralyzed the aviation industry. However, before that, the fate of this aircraft line was also decided.
Why is the icon “disgraceful”?
The Airbus A380 is a wide-body, double-decker jet airliner with four engines. It is also the first and only twin-aisle, four-engine superjumbo that Airbus has developed. It was created to compete with the Boeing 747. The first flight of the Airbus A380 took place in 2005 and was commercially operated in October 2007 by Singapore Airlines itself.
The introduction of the A380 marks Airbus’ leapfrogging achievement in the race with Boeing. They are superior in every way to the 747s. However, one thing that cannot be ignored is that the Queens of the Sky, the name of the Boeing 747, took off for the first time since 1969, close to the A380. 4 decades.
The glories of wide-body aircraft have all belonged to the Boeing 747. The A380 appeared at the “end of the wave”, making it popular but not revolutionary. The long range of 15,700 km and the capacity of up to 525 guests in all 3 types of seats suddenly became the deathbed of this aircraft.
As of November 2016, there are 319 Airbus A380 orders and 200 deliveries. Emirates is the airline with the most orders for A380s with 100 delivered out of 142. A380’s customers are all major airlines, specializing in serving the world’s wealthiest passengers. However, their large size makes it impossible for all airports to accommodate their presence. This is why many airports have to make repairs to ensure the A380 takes off and lands safely.
However, only in February 2019, Airbus decided to stop the A380 program indefinitely in 2021 due to no new orders. The fact that Emirates also swapped undelivered A380s for smaller A350s and A330neos was a major reason for the earlier closures than expected. Thus, only 251 A380s were delivered.
According to calculations, with this number of aircraft, Airbus needs to make a profit of $90 million each to be able to offset the $25 billion cost they spent to develop this program. However, the exact selling price of 445 million USD / unit does not seem to be enough to cover production costs, let alone profit. This means that Airbus continues to lose money with each A380 sold. With orders disappearing, stopping production seems to be an economic problem.
The giant was born in the wrong time
There’s no denying that the A380 is a very good aircraft. For the user, it is wide, comfortable and exceptionally luxurious. However, for airlines, it is a burden. It is difficult to fill more than 500 seats per flight. It is also only suitable for busy roads, connecting economic centers with each other instead of other journeys.
Meanwhile, airlines focus on exploiting smaller destinations but with higher occupancy rates with smaller aircraft lines. In fact, the airline industry’s shift in thinking about routes has made a big impact on the A380s. Orders of terrible aircraft such as A380 or Boeing 747 have also decreased since 2010 until now.
When the pandemic broke out, the giants became even more of a burden. The fact that the first two A380s were taken away “butchered” by the same airline that pioneered the use of this aircraft is a milestone, marking a series of “tragic” days that this monument may be about to go through. . No one knows when the global aviation industry will be able to recover, and not many people know when the A380s can return to the skies.
Singapore Airlines carefully planned to tow the A380s to the scrapping site. Due to the good quality of the aircraft, they will disassemble each part that can be used to sell as spare parts for working A380s. These are 2 out of 7 Airbus A380s that Singapore Airlines will remove from service in 2020.
Much of what the Airbus A380 can provide has been caught up by smaller competitors such as the Boeing 777, Boeing 787 or Airbus A350. These small aircraft models become much more “friendly” for airlines as they are fuel efficient, easy to fill and can perfectly accommodate different routes.
However, the remaining A380s are still scheduled for use when demand returns. They will continue to spread their wings in the sky thanks to the luxury and convenience that no other aircraft can match. The rich will certainly still love to travel in A380s, especially when they make long journeys comfortable.