Pictures have emerged of Qantas beginning to dismantle one of its Airbus A380 aircraft.
The A380, one of the most loved aircraft around the world, has already been disappearing in the fleet of airlines across the globe due to the shift towards smaller and more efficient aircraft.
The end of an era
Smaller and more efficient aircraft have pushed the Airbus aircraft out of the picture. The European aerospace manufacturer could be successful in its attempt to launch a zero-emission commercial A380 in 2035, however.
But in the meantime, pictures have emerged on social media of Australian flag carrier Qantas dismantling some of their A380s to be scrapped for spare parts.
The parts recovered will be stored in Qantas facilities located at Los Angeles International Airport and Sydney Airport.
The aircraft being dismantled was Qantas’ sixth A380 out of 12 – the VH-OQF. It won’t be the last A380 scrapped by Qantas. In 2020, the world’s third oldest airline said that post grounding all 12 in June because of the pandemic, only 10 will return to passenger service and two would be retired. The VH-OQE will be next.
However, Qantas currently only has two A380s listed as “active” and it is unknown when the remaining eight will return to passenger service.
The future of aviation
The A380, which dates back to the early 1990s, was a promising aircraft that was created initially to compete against Boeing’s 747.
The A380 first took flight in April 2005 with a maiden voyage that lasted 3 hours and 54 minutes, featuring a crew of six.
It was a huge aircraft – no doubt about it. A whopping 239 feet long, 79 feet tall, and 262 feet from wingtip to wingtip. According to Airbus, it could carry a maximum of 868 passengers in a high-density configuration.
October 2007 saw the first Airbus A380 delivered to Singapore Airlines and later that same month, it underwent its first commercial flight – a long haul from Singapore to Sydney.
The A380 attracted some major airlines – its lavish facilities such as walk-up bars, onboard lounges and first-class bathrooms with showers were perfectly suited to the likes of Emirates, Singapore Airlines and Etihad Airways.
Emirates, in fact, loved the A380. The Dubai-based carrier ordered almost half of the A380s ever ordered – 123 of 274.
The A380 was fantastic on paper – it was even designed to have lower-than-average operating costs than its competitors at the time. But what went wrong?
As the aircraft became more popular, Airbus started to receive more and more orders from airlines such as Qantas, Lufthansa, Korean Air and British Airways. But the A380 catered well to long-haul services (hence why it was popular with Emirates), but very few airlines are as focused on long-haul flights.
As a result, many airlines struggled to fill seats on the aircraft and use of the aircraft started to dwindle.
The beginning of the end
Slowly but surely, airlines started to retire the Airbus aircraft.
In 2017, according to Insider, Singapore Airlines became the first airline to restore an A380. It was the first of five to suffer that fate.
In November 2019, Air France retired one of its A380s.
The pandemic accelerated matters as many airlines grounded their fleets of A380s and never resumed service with them once travel started to return to normal.
The European manufacturer announced their decision to conclude the A380 programme in early 2019, with production to end in 2021. In the end, Emirates’, decision, to reduce orders was the final straw for the aerospace manufacturer. It was a surprising and swift decline as in 2018, Airbus had expected the programme to last at least 10 more years.
But ultimately, the aircraft failed to completely fulfil the commercial vision of Airbus. Despite 274 sales, the overall project never made a profit. Airbus ended up producing at a loss as the development cost of the aircraft was twice the original estimate.
The Airbus A380 still goes down in aviation history as one of the most loved passenger jets. After 13 years in service, its farewell is a fond one.
Had you travelled on the A380 before? Or do you have any thoughts on its sudden decline? Let us know in the comments below.