Excerpt from Forbes
Bigger isn't always better. And Airbus' giant A380 double-decker airplane capable of flying 8,000 nautical miles with 555 passengers in a conventional three-class configuration or a whoping 853 in an all-one-class configuration that is almost too bizarre to contemplate, is a 277 ton primary example of that maxim.
Next week will mark the 11th anniversary of the A380's celebrated entry into commercial service. But there have been only about 230 of them delivered to airlines in all that time. And it only has orders on the books for another 100 or so. That compares quite poorly to the 875 such planes that Airbus officials in the early 2000s were predicting they'd sell by the end of 2019
And now the news is getting worse. The first four A380s delivered to airlines already have been retired and the first two of them, including the very first one to ever fly in passenger service for Singapore Airlines, have been parked at a remote airport in the Pyrenees Mountains. That's where they'll be gradually stripped of their parts and engines so that they can be sold on the spares market and of their metal, which will be sold mostly for scrap value. The estimated $40 million to $80 million that the parts and metal from one A380 will bring pales in comparison to the $250 million that Singapore Airlines reportedly paid for that first A380, and to the $445 million of a new A380 today.
To be sure, A380s will continue to serve and to be seen at major airports around the world for at least another decade. But after just 11 years in service the A380 program already is on the down hill slide toward its eventual, unsuccessful end. Short of a miracle comeback, the A380 will go down in aviation history as the victim of its own size - and of Airbus leadership's stubbornly mistaken belief that the market would favor fewer flights on enormous aircraft over higher frequency service using mid-size planes on long-haul routes between the world's most populous and/or most popular cities.
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