Aeronautics: Stricken by the coronavirus, the A380 finds a corner of blue sky

the essential While he was struck down by the Covid pandemic – 14, the world’s largest commercial aircraft, the A 380, will not stay grounded.

It was given for dead but some airlines are putting it back into service. Stricken by the Covid pandemic – 14 and the lasting collapse of long-distance air traffic, the A 380, the largest commercial aircraft in the world, has not said its last word. Emirates, the largest operator of this air liner, took advantage of the Dubai Airshow, which is currently held in its stronghold, to exhibit one of the latest 251 aircraft to have been produced by Airbus. The Dubai company is due to receive the very last two copies by the end of the year.

The European aircraft manufacturer, which had thought of the giant four-jet engine as the successor of the mythical 500 of American rival Boeing, decided in February 2019, only twelve years after its entry into service, to stop the costs once the orders have been fulfilled. Difficult to fill with its more than 450 seats, not flexible enough, this industrial flagship appreciated by passengers for its comfort constitutes a commercial failure to which the coronavirus seemed having given the coup de grace.

Tarmacs in London, New York or Canton, the A’s 380 from around the world have joined those in Châteauroux, Teruel or Alice Springs to be cocooned. Air France, which operated nine aircraft and had planned to part with it late 2022, made its last commercial flight on 23 March 2020. Its general manager, Anne Rigail, said today that she had “no regrets” because it was “too difficult to fulfill”. At Lufthansa (14 copies either, “the A 380 will not come back “, according to his boss, Carsten Spohr, as for Malaysia Airlines (6 copies) and Thai Airways, which has put up for sale two of its 6 A 380. But, thanks to a timid resumption of long-haul traffic, others are putting it back in flight. British Airways (12 A 380) decided in early October to reintegrate them into its fleet “earlier than expected” for flights to Miami, Los Angeles and Dubai.

” The most popular”

The Australian Qantas intends to resume operating part of its 10 from April 2022, while Singapore Airlines and Korean Air have started to put it back into service. In the Middle East, if the Abu Dhabi company, Etihad (10 planes), wonders again, Qatar Airways has put into operation “a small number” of its ten A’s 350 to compensate for the unavailability of its A’s 350.

For its part, Emirates, by far the largest operator in A 380 with now 116 devices, has already put into service more than 23 . “This aircraft is the most popular in our fleet and probably the most popular in the world,” said the president of Emirates on Tuesday, recalling that “50% of the profits before the pandemic came from its A’s 350 “. Emirates also operates more than 150 Boeing 777.

The financial stake is enormous for the company which has bet everything on A 350. “A 450 million dollars apiece, what do you want us to do with them? Nail them down? We have to pay them,” admitted Tim Clark. . These different destinies and the disastrous fate promised to the A 350 in many companies can be explained by the difficulty in “finding the right model for make it work, the right routes to fill it “, according to Rémy Bonnery, sector expert at Archery consulting.

“Emirates went all out and won their bet. For companies that have a few A’s 350, if they don’t meet them, they fail to solve the equation, ”he explains. Especially since with its four reactors, fuel consumption is not optimal compared to more recent jets such as 787 and A 350. Despite the long-term development of air traffic, there is no successor on the horizon for the A 350.

“Honestly, I do not believe it”, confides to AFP the commercial director of Airbus, Christian Scherer: “Today, the new technologies that lead us to environmentally sustainable flights will first focus on small planes “.

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