It can go fast in aviation. Ten years ago, thousands of people stood along the roads and the Polderbaan to see an A380 at Schiphol for the first time. An Airbus demonstrator. The roof of the Schiphol Tunnel was specially reinforced to support the enormous weight.
The flight was the prelude to the arrival of Emirates at Schiphol in 2012. The airline from Dubai thus became a formidable competitor for KLM in offering cheap intercontinental flights. In the years that followed, a second A380 also came daily. Chinese airlines also started using the super aircraft on the busy routes between China and Schiphol.
The European aircraft manufacturer Airbus had designed this enormous aircraft with an eye to increasingly crowded airports. The double-decker can even carry 853 passengers, but 555 seats are the most common. After all, passengers want more space in business class and Emirates even has a first class, with luxurious sleeping cabins, a bar and shower.
Emirates is the largest consumer of the aircraft to date. Currently, the Middle East company employs 115 of them. And that at a list price of $ 445 million each. With the massive device, Emirates sucks passengers away from airports around the world to transfer them to Dubai. That went well as long as the demand for airplane seats continued to rise. But especially in the low season it was difficult to fill the bakbeesten. In addition, the four-engine machine is a kerosene guzzler. It is not surprising that Emirates also started to buy more and more smaller aircraft.
The worldwide interest in the showpiece of Airbus was also disappointing. The number of orders fell sharply after its launch in 2005. And although development costs are still not recouped, Airbus announced a year ago that it would stop producing the aircraft, especially after Emirates cut a large part of the order. The last eight Emirates aircraft will be delivered in the course of next year. In total, 251 copies of the double-decker were built.
The first A380s of Singapore Airlines were already scrapped a year ago. Although these copies were ten years old, the lease company was unable to find new users. A huge destruction of capital because an airplane usually lasts 25 to 30 years.
And now comes the corona crisis on top. It meant that KLM decided to accelerate the removal of the last Boeings 747 for passengers from the fleet, although two copies are currently flying from China to the Netherlands with medical devices. Other companies also reject the Jumbojet 747. Usually, these are also older machines. But corona now also necks the A380 fleet. Air France announced last week that all nine copies will be divested.
Other airlines also do not need this largest passenger aircraft in the world. Etihad plans to dispose of the ten aircraft, which are on average five years old. Lufthansa has already decided to sell six A380s. Even major consumer Emirates does not see a bright future for this workhorse. CEO Tim Clark recently stated that a clean-up of the fleet is necessary. Fifty of the oldest copies of the A380 may be discarded. The rest will be flown for at least another ten years.
KLM never wanted to buy the A380, despite the tightness at Schiphol. KLM prefers to fly twice a day to a destination with a smaller aircraft, than once with a beast like the A380. With more flights, the transfer passengers are better served.