Emirates receives final Airbus A380 superjumbo

While production of the distinctive double-decker comes to an end, the European plane maker said it will continue to service the aircraft

Emirates is the world's largest operator of Airbus A380 aircraft, with about half of the superjumbos in service. Photo: Emirates
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Emirates airline received the last manufactured Airbus A380 on Thursday, the 123rd aircraft that completed its superjumbo fleet.

The delivery capped a historic run for the wide-body A380, the first new aircraft of the 21st century. There were 249 of the double-decker delivered to 14 customers, including Abu Dhabi's Etihad Airways. Emirates operates about half of the A380s in service globally.

"The A380 is a truly special aircraft in so many ways. For Emirates, it gave us the opportunity to redefine the travel experience, efficiently serve demand at slot-constrained airports, and bolster our network growth. The A380 will remain Emirates’ flagship product for the coming years, and a vital pillar of our network plans," Tim Clark, president of Emirates airline, said in a statement.

The superjumbo delivered to Emirates on Thursday features the latest cabin products, including premium economy. "Compare it to our very first A380 delivered back in 2008 and you’ll see the myriad of enhancements and upgrades invested in ensuring that the Emirates A380 experience is unparalleled," Mr Clark added.

The A380 will remain Emirates’ flagship product for the coming years, and a vital pillar of our network plans
Tim Clark, president of Emirates airline

The A380's status, however, was not a consideration for the Covid-19 pandemic, which hit the aviation industry hard and forced several A380 operators to ground the aircraft or remove them from their operations altogether.

Germany's Lufthansa, which retired six of the superjumbos in 2019, scrapped all its A380 operations in September because of the pandemic.

Singapore Airlines, the A380's launch customer, grounded its 17 A380 during Covid-19, and in November 2020 announced plans to trim its fleet to 12. Last month, a Qantas A380 returned to Australia after spending almost 600 days in the Californian desert.

While production of the A380 comes to an end, Toulouse-based Airbus said it will continue to service the aircraft.

"As production comes to a close, the A380 will keep flying for decades to come, and Airbus is continuing to fully support A380 operators and their fleets," Airbus said on its website.

In February 2019, Airbus announced it will scrap production of the A380. Emirates agreed at the time to receive 14 more of the superjumbos from 2019 to the end of 2021 and ordered 70 smaller A330 and A350 jets.

The A380, the largest civil aircraft in history, set new standards in aviation. Its wider cabin allows for wider seats – up to 48 centimetres in economy class – and has room for 545 passengers, although theoretically it can carry a maximum of 853.

Its cabin enables airlines to accommodate 232 more seats, or 75 per cent more than Boeing's 747-400, and 199 more seats, or 60 per cent more, than the 747-8 in a four-class layout configuration.

"The A380 has touched the lives of so many passengers by setting new standards in terms of flying and travel experience. I'm confident that it will continue to do so for decades to come with Emirates, which has continuously introduced new services and products allowing passengers around the world to experience the unique features of their A380s," said Guillaume Faury, chief executive of Airbus.

The aeroplane also needs runways that are about 300 metres shorter to take off and land compared with other aircraft in its class.

Conceived in the early 1990s, the A380 was unveiled in December 2000 and entered commercial service on October 25, 2007, with Singapore Airlines.

Emirates and the A380 highlights - in pictures

Updated: December 16, 2021, 3:16 PM