As the COVID-19 pandemic has spread across the world and shut down international travel, airlines have been looking to cut costs. One of the best ways to cut costs is to ground expensive or inefficient aircraft or to retire them completely, because of this for many airlines the first on the chopping block is the A380.
Used for mainly long-haul international flights that can fill the large aircraft with passengers, there is simply not enough traffic to warrant such large aircraft because of this airlines have been grounding them at a greater rate than other aircraft and cutting orders.
Emirates is looking to cancel five of its last eight Airbus A380 orders. The UAE-based carrier is planning to take on three of the widebody aircraft this year but does not want the remaining three that are due to arrive after. However, Airbus is standing its ground since the planes are already in production.
Complications surrounding the coronavirus pandemic, including the ban on transit flights through Dubai, have forced Emirates to ground most of its planes over the last few months. With both of its models including the Boeing 777 built with high capacity onboard, many of the flights that are still in operation may not be as efficient amid the downturn in passenger activity.
Lufthansa is set to end Airbus A380 operations out of its Frankfurt hub as a result of the current aviation depression. This also sees the German flag carrier retiring a seventh Airbus A380. Lufthansa has decided that it will only operate the Airbus A380 from Munich and will potentially cut half of its A380 fleet.
Following in this pattern, Air France has announced the retirement of its nine remaining Airbus A380 aircraft. The French flag carrier had already intended on a 2022 retirement before the outbreak of the current pandemic but has moved forward the dates due to the crisis.
Malaysian Airlines has bucked the current trend. It has been able to repurpose the aircraft for cargo shipments getting approval to pack cargo on the main passenger deck of its A380s. Malaysia is one of the world’s biggest producers of personal protective equipment (PPE), and Malaysia Airlines is starting to carve out a niche for itself, operating flights to deliver the highly sought after products across the globe.
It seems that after this pandemic is over the A380 will be a much rarer bird in our skies.