Airbus delivers last ever A380 to Emirates

Emirates Airbus A380 aircraft
Emirates' final Airbus A380 aircraft during a test-flight ahead of delivery. Photo: © Emirates

Emirates has taken delivery of the very last newly built Airbus A380 aircraft on Thursday, December 16.

After a low-pass over the Airbus production site in Hamburg, the A6-EVS registered aircraft continued its delivery flight to the carrier’s hub in Dubai. It is the 123rd A380 delivered to the Emirati airline and marks the end of the ‘Superjumbo’s production.

Emirates is by far the world’s largest customer of the aircraft type. It placed the first order for the A380 some 21 years ago and became the second airline to receive the type in July 2008. Launch customer was Singapore Airlines in October 2007 which currently has 17 A380 in its fleet, less than a seventh of Emirates.

In February 2019, aircraft manufacturer Airbus announced an end to the A380 programme, primarily due to low sales numbers and high programme costs. Emirates and ANA were the only customers with outstanding orders at the time. Following the announcement, Emirates cancelled 39 of its 53 remaining orders for the type and instead opted for the Airbus A350 to join its fleet consisting primarily of A380 and Boeing 777 aircraft.

The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated aircraft retirements at airlines around the world, including some that were looking to reduce or drop their A380 operations. One of them, Air France, had initially planned to retire the type by 2022. Low passenger numbers caused by the pandemic led to an early retirement in June 2020. Lufthansa also withdrew the aircraft from future service in 2021, with no confirmed plans of bringing it back. Charter airline Hi Fly said goodbye to its one and only A380 in late-2020.

Meanwhile, other carriers opted for a suspension of A380 flights and only temporarily grounded the aircraft, instead of phasing it out entirely. Airlines like Qantas, Qatar Airways and British Airways are currently in the process of bringing back their superjumbos, after halting its operations at the beginning of the pandemic.