Following news this week that Etihad was the next carrier to ground its Airbus A380 fleet, new data from Cirium has revealed the dire straights the aircraft finds itself in.
Of the 240 planes currently with airlines around the world, just 21 are in service.
Cirium data (as of March 16th) shows Emirates remains the largest operator of the plane, with 15 in service, while China Southern Airlines, with five, and Korean Air, with one, are the other airlines currently using the aircraft.
Emirates has nearly half of the A380s in the world currently in storage, with 102 on the tarmac, while Singapore Airlines (19), Lufthansa (14) and Qantas (12) also have a large number out of service.
It remains to be seen how many ever fly commercially again, with IATA predicting passenger figures will not return to levels seen in 2019 until at least 2024.
Airbus itself has previously said it expects to stop manufacturing the aircraft type this year, while only four were made last year.
Meantime on Wednesday, the last A380 that Airbus will assemble departed from the plane manufacturer’s home in Toulouse. The aircraft departed for Hamburg (HAM), where it will be painted before delivery to Emirates.
Emirates is the world’s largest operator of the Airbus A380 aircraft. Since the inception of the A380 and its entry to service in 2007, Emirates had ordered 123 of the aircraft. It has 118 of the superjumbos in its fleet now and is still expecting to take delivery of the final five A380s — including the final A380 ever produced.
Qantas, Air France and Lufthansa are among the other carriers to have outlined plans to curtail the use of the A380 following the Covid-19 pandemic.
However, several airlines have said that they won’t bring their A380s out of storage. Air France and Thai Airways, for example, have retired all their A380s.
Some airlines have said they remain committed to the A380. British Airways CEO Sean Doyle said this week that the airline’s A380s will return to service. Of course, as it’s yet to take delivery of its final five A380s.
Before the coronavirus pandemic, the fate of the superjumbo looked doomed. But the pandemic has hit that point home even harder. At one point in 2020, all A380s around the world except one were grounded. As airlines struggled to cope with the reduced passenger demand, large aircrafts like the A380 and Boeing 747 largely remained grounded, with their operating expenses far more than what they would make in revenue from seats sold.
Just 14 years after its launch, in October 2007, it seems the end may already be in sight for the Airbus A380.
By joe Cusmano