French aviation giant Airbus has delivered its latest A380 aircraft to Dubai’s flagship airline Emirates, marking the last and 251st delivery of the once-pioneering double-decker commercial aircraft.
The last aircraft, the MSN 272, was delivered to Emirates in Hamburg, Germany.
It was the 123rd A380 delivered to the giant Dubai, which was Airbus’ biggest customer for the “superjumbo” model. The aircraft can carry at least 500 passengers and has been certified safe to hold at least 800, depending on the seating configuration.
The Emirates delivery was also the last A380 to be manufactured by Airbus as a whole. The model’s production line is now closed, 14 years after the delivery of the first jet in 2007 to Singapore Airlines.
Yet Airbus has made it clear that the end of production does not mean the end of the A380. A statement said: “The A380 will continue to fly for at least 20 years.”
Airbus will continue to have spare parts and a maintenance program for existing customers to keep aircraft flying safely for decades to come.
A team dedicated to the A380 will also work on improving its operating costs and modernizing its equipment and passenger cabin in the years to come.
“The future of the superjumbo”
Airbus, headquartered in Toulouse, Occitanie, has received 251 orders from 14 companies for the aircraft in total, including three test aircraft.
Over the past 14 years, the jet has carried more than 300 million passengers and flown 7.3 million hours. It currently serves more than 70 countries around the world, with the majority of destinations in the Asia-Pacific region.
The future of superjumbos will depend in part on the fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic on international travel. Several airlines in Europe, including British Airways and Air France, have withdrawn their largest jets in the wake of the pandemic, including the A380 and Boeing 747.
US competitor Boeing is expected to close production of its 747 in 2022.
However, the manufacturing program for the A380 did not stop because of the pandemic. Airbus made the decision after the launch of its new A280neo aircraft, as well as several major setbacks to the program.
Airbus has not received any orders for the superjumbo since 2015, and the program has failed to meet the ambitious targets it set for itself. The project budget reached 30 billion euros, instead of the 10-15 billion euros initially planned, there were manufacturing and delivery delays and technical faults, and orders never reached the peaks planned.
Yet with the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, the plane was hailed as a then pioneering superjumbo jet and has become increasingly popular for airlines such as Emirates, Singapore Airlines and Qantas.
The difficulties faced by Airbus as a result of the A380 struggles helped it organize and align itself more with its shareholders, after it was merged in 2001 to officially include the French company AÃ©rospatiale Matra, the German company Dasa , the Spanish company Casa and the British company. BAE Systems company.
It has since accelerated for other projects, including the A350, which became a commercial success, and allowed the company to overtake its American rival Boeing.
The Jean-Luc LagardÃ¨re hangar in Toulouse, where the A380 was assembled, has been refitted to accommodate the new A321 assembly line; while the 3,500 employees who worked on the production of the A380 in Europe have been redeployed to other projects since 2019.
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