A landmark moment in the short life of the Airbus A380 has seen the last of the breed rolled out of a production shed in Toulouse, France.
Initial assembly has been completed on the last-ever superjumbo after it was announced in 2019 that the European airplane manufacturer was discontinuing the double-decker plane.
The last one now awaits engines, flight tests and cabin fit-outs after which it will be painted in the colours of Emirates airline.
The final A380 – the first of which was delivered to Singapore Airlines in 2007 – is one of eight still scheduled for delivery to Emirates, the jet's biggest customer, with one more awaiting delivery to Japanese carrier ANA.
The world’s biggest passenger aircraft, with its bars and lounges, was loved by passengers, but carriers began to favour lighter, more fuel-efficient craft even before the pandemic further shifted the odds against the plane’s survival.
Airlines including Lufthansa, Qantas, Thai Airways and Air France grounded their superjumbos earlier this year and Qantas has indicated that it won’t use the A380 on international routes for at least the next three years.
How many will emerge post-pandemic from California's Mojave Desert, where unwanted planes are kept on life support, is a question that is being debated by A380 operators.
President of Emirates Tim Clark is keeping faith with the 116 superjumbos in its fleet and expects them to be back in the air by April 2022. “Hopefully, we’ll see them flying for at least another 10 years,” he told Business Insider. “We’ll keep it going as long as we can.”
He said as good as the latest aircraft were, “how could they be good as the A380 on the upper deck, or as good as it is in economy with 10-abreast seating on the main deck”?
“It’s palatial. And people absolutely love it. They still go out of their way to get on the 380.”
So much so, that Singapore Airlines – for two days only on 24 and 25 October – will transform one of its A380s into a fine dining restaurant. Guests will enjoy a full inflight dining experience on the ground.
Diners can pick their cabin class and enjoy the service of SIA’s flight attendants while being served the airline’s signature dishes onboard the plane.
To complement the experience, airline staff will be wearing a showcase of cabin crew uniforms from the past.