Emirates received its last superjumbo A380 aircraft on Thursday, marking the final delivery of the jet for Airbus after 14 years of service.
It was the 123rd A380 for the UAE-based carrier, and it landed in Hamburg on 16 December, welcomed by Airbus and Emirates staff.
“The A380 is a truly special aircraft in so many ways. For Emirates, it gave us the opportunity to redefine the travel experience, efficiently serve demand at slot-constrained airports, and bolster our network growth,” said Sir Tim Clark, president of Emirates.
“The A380 will remain Emirates’ flagship product for the coming years, and a vital pillar of our network plans.”
Over the past few years, the once largest passenger airliner being manufactured became more obsolete due to presiding demand for narrowbody aircraft in the post-pandemic recovery.
On 14 February 2019, Airbus announced it would no longer produce the jet after 2021 following low demand.
Despite this, many airlines such as Qantas in Australia and Doha-based Qatar Airways have returned the aircraft to the sky in response to post-pandemic demand and issues with other jets.
Emirates was the first airline to announce an order for the jet at the 2000 Farnborough Airshow when details of the aircraft were still under wraps, followed by a firm commitment in 2001 at the Dubai Air Show for 15 more.
The first A380 Emirates bought was delivered in 2008 from Airbus’ Hamburg facility, and it performed its last commercial flight in March last year.
The carrier has remained the largest operator of the aircraft across the world, and it is still the company’s long-haul workhorse.
“The A380 has touched the lives of so many passengers by setting new standards in terms of flying and travel experience,” said Airbus CEO Guillaume Faury.
“On behalf of all Airbus teams, I would like to use this delivery milestone to warmly thank Emirates Airline – the biggest A380 operator in the world – for their unwavering trust and partnership. Here’s to many more happy landings!”
In November, Emirates announced its first retired A380 aircraft will be upcycled and repurposed into collectibles and furniture for purchase.
It is part of a contract with UAE-based Falcon Aircraft Recycling which aims to reduce the environmental footprint of air travel.
As soon as it retired, the aircraft was transferred to the airline’s engineering centre where the team retrieved usable components such as engines, landing gears and flight controls.
While the delivery marks the end of an era, the A380 has shaped the entire Airbus family, especially on the A350 aircraft, according to Bertrand George, head of the A380 program.
“The A380 has enabled the four Airbus countries to work together and adopt common development and industrialisation methods,” he said.
Despite the landmark delivery, the A380 still remains a fundamental aircraft for airlines across the world and has carried more than 300 million passengers since its debut in 2007.