An Appreciation for the A380, an Airplane That Never Should Have Been Built


Less than 20 years after the aircraft program was launched, Airbus announced last week that it would begin winding down production on the A380. I’ve always thought this was an airplane that never should have been built. If Airbus breaks even on this program, then that would be the best possible outcome. If that doesn’t scream “not successful,” I don’t know what does. But that doesn’t mean it was all bad. In fact, as a passenger, the airplane was — and is — a delight to fly. So, consider this an appreciation for the airplane… even if it’s an appreciation that’s going to point out all the flaws.

When the A380 was first launched at the dawn of the millennium, it was touted as the solution to increasingly-crowded airports. As passenger numbers increased, there would be a greater need for large airplanes to help transport the masses. At least, that was what Airbus believed. Boeing, however, thought that was ridiculous.

As far as Boeing was concerned, the real demand would be for smaller airplanes that would allow flights between cities that couldn’t support nonstops on bigger flights as well as additional frequencies in markets that already had service. Boeing won that bet handily as the 787 has become one of the most popular airplanes flying. Hindsight is 20/20, but Airbus would have been smart to listen to all the naysayers.

Things did not start off well. The airplane took several delays, and the freighter was abandoned early on. But when Airbus finally rolled the A380 out, it took my breath away in ways both good and bad. There’s no doubt that it was ugly as sin with that stubby body and low, sloping forehead. Put it next to a regal 747 and the difference was dramatic. But it was also truly massive in a very impressive way. The wing was a feat of engineering. This was an airplane that could take off weighing more than 1 million pounds. Talk about a technological marvel.

While it was a marvel, it was also a giant pain in the neck for airports. The wingspan was so large and the capacity so big that airports had to rethink how they could even handle the beast. Some of the biggest airports in the world scrambled to build gates with jet bridges on two levels to help facilitate boarding and deplaning more quickly. They also had to think about larger waiting areas. Taxiways and terminals were reconfigured to be able to handle the airplane, but the work was never fully done. In Los Angeles, for example, they still need to block taxiways to let the A380 move around on some parts of the airfield. And at JFK, British Airways still doesn’t have any A380-capable gates in its Terminal 7.

While the usual suspects ended up buying a handful of A380s due to national pressure (Lufthansa, Air France, British Airways), delusions of grandeur (Malaysia, Thai), or me-too syndrome (Asiana, Etihad, Qatar), there was really only one airline that truly loved the airplane. That was Emirates.

Emirates was responsible for about half of the A380s ordered with 162 along with options for another 16. It built Dubai into a massive transit hub where dozens of A380s would line up to trade passengers from all corners of the world. Emirates loved the airplane, because it arrived at the right time. Just as Dubai was ramping up to make its mark in the world, Emirates was there to support the effort.

Passengers agreed with Emirates right off the bat. The airplane was gigantic but felt comfortable on the inside. It was exceedingly quiet and handled turbulence very well. It proved to be rather popular with anyone who flew it, but it wasn’t popular enough that it influenced purchase decisions.

Early supporters became more lukewarm over time. Singapore Airlines began returning its early models to lessors, because it had no use for all of them. Air France did the same. And Qantas lost a decade of growth opportunities because of its focus on the A380 over smaller aircraft. Only now with the 787 coming into the fleet is Qantas catching up. Others, like Virgin Atlantic, canceled their orders before an airplane ever arrived on property.

Airbus publicly remained optimistic that it would find takers, but it never did. The airlines agreed with Boeing’s vision of the future, and the smaller A350 benefited. But the A380 remained mostly unwanted.

Airbus went into desperation mode trying to find new ways to improve the airplane. It looked at lowering the floor to be able to seat one more person in each row in coach. (It was awkward and terrible.) Airbus also worked on re-engining the airplane to be more efficient, even though it would still have twice as many engines as most other aircraft flying. The only airline that bit was Emirates, ordering 20 more and holding options for another 16. That was expected to keep the production line humming… slowly… into the 2030s.

The joy of having saved the line eventually turned to fear as engines failed to meet expectations and Emirates started getting cold feet. I have to assume that the growth opportunities for Emirates started looking much less attractive as the operation continued to grow and the economy stagnated.

The death knell was sounded last week when Emirates opted to cancel 39 of its remaining orders leaving it with only 14 aircraft to be delivered over the next two years. The production of the A380 will end for good in 2021.

In its place, Emirates has validated Boeing’s beliefs from long ago. The airline has ordered 40 A330-900s alongside 30 A350-900s to grow with those smaller aircraft.

While it’s always sad to see the end of the line for any aircraft, it’s entirely understandable here. Each year that passed, newer technology airplanes with better efficiency came into the market and made the A380 even more obsolete than it already was. Even if future capacity constraints make a larger aircraft more desirable in the future, it won’t be the A380. It’ll be something with a newer and more efficient design.

As a quick aside, this likely marks the end of the passenger-carrying, 4-engine jumbo jet. Boeing has no more passenger 747-8s on order, and I doubt any more will roll in. It’s the end of an era.

While the end is now in sight, all of this past-tense discussion is premature. It’s important to remember that you’ll be able to actually fly on these airplanes for years to come. It’s not like they’ll all be retired when production is done. Here’s where you can find them in the US as of now.

  • Air France (10) – It may have 10 today, but Air France expects to be rid of half of those by the end of the year. This year it flies from Paris to JFK, Miami, Washington/Dulles, Atlanta, and Los Angeles, but I assume that will have to shrink as the fleet is halved.
  • ANA (3) – The newest operator of the A380 is dedicating these to the Tokyo – Honolulu route, so you’ll see them there for some time.
  • Asiana (6) – You’ll find Asiana’s A380s in Los Angeles, usually twice a day.
  • British Airways (12) – In the US, BA flies to LA, San Francisco, Miami, Boston, and soon Chicago with this airplane.
  • China Southern (5) – These are flying to Los Angeles.
  • Emirates (123) – You’ll find these pretty much everywhere. Try Los Angeles, San Francisco, JFK, Dulles, and Houston for now.
  • Etihad (10) – Within the US, it’s just JFK that gets these airplanes.
  • Hi Fly (1) – This is a charter aircraft, so there’s no way of knowing where it’ll end up on any given day.
  • Korean (10) – Korean continues to fly double daily flights from Los Angeles. JFK sees it as well, but I believe that’s it in the US.
  • Lufthansa (14) – You can find them flying from Los Angeles, Houston, and Miami to Frankfurt as well as Los Angeles and San Francisco to Munich.
  • Malaysia (6) – You won’t see these or any other Malaysia airplanes in the US.
  • Qantas (12) – As of now you’ll see these only in Los Angeles and Dallas/Fort Worth.
  • Qatar (10) – Qatar does not fly these airplanes to the US.
  • Singapore (19) – Singapore may have expanded recently in the US, but the only place getting the A380 today is New York/JFK.
  • Thai (6) – As with Malaysia, you won’t see these or any Thai airplanes in the US.

As a passenger, I plan on enjoying the A380 several more times before it disappears from the skies. And I will be sad to see it go when it does. But from every other perspective? The end of this program is a good thing. So long, A380. It’s been… interesting.

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61 comments on “An Appreciation for the A380, an Airplane That Never Should Have Been Built

  1. I agree on the lack of beauty from the front, but the curvature on the wings makes it by far and away the most beautiful plane from the rear. And when you are up close the scale of it is just breathtaking.

    1. When you’re sitting on the lower deck by the wing all you can see is that damn wing.

      Hey, remember in ~2014 when UA was rumored to be getting a couple on loan for SFO-PVG? Weird!

  2. The A380 is one of the most comfortable modern aircraft and it did it in every class. But alas, economics trump comfort and the smaller size of every other longhaul aircraft means there are lots of options for airlines to replace their A380s. I will do my best to make my way to DXB over the next decade plus to take advantage of what will be an era in modern aviation that won’t be repeated.
    Airbus’ finances are clearly moving more in the direction of a responsible market-driven company than an ego-driven project which is what the A380 was. The fact that the A380 was the bait that the ME3 airlines used to pry open European markets also says the political influence that surrounded the A380 will give way to a more market-based approach to aviation – both on the manufacture and transportation sides.
    Few other airlines besides EK will lament the loss of the A380 and even EK may recognize that the death of the A380 might be what EK itself needs to become a more financially successful company than an ego-driven operator.
    As the B747 and A380 are pulled from global airline fleets over the next decade plus, there is a lot of new aircraft capacity that will be up for grabs.
    Finally, the death of the A380 provides a needed shot for both the A330NEO and A350. Airbus will undoubtedly work overtime in the next few years to refocus attention on its widebody twins, something Boeing realized it needed to do years ago even if the 747 was given one more breath of life even if it, too, was probably not economically successful.

  3. Looks like the Hi Fly A380 may still be in Toulouse for maintenance, or at least it was, based on the latest avgeek gossip Google could dig up. I’d be surprised if Hi Fly didn’t try to lease the A380 out for the hajj pilgrimage, unless it’s already reserved for another purpose.

      1. That’s what I was getting at… As a very amateur avgeek, hajj pilgrimage is just about the only mission I can really think of where the A380’s strengths would make it shine.

        Another opportunity might be for domestic Chinese flights during peak holiday times (e.g., Chinese New Year), but I’m not familiar with that part of the aviation world and will let others decide if/when the domestic Chinese aviation market is/will be mature or congested enough for that.

  4. To use an old phrase from where I grew up, “This Dog don’t hunt!”

    The A380 was an ego play rather than a project with any kind of business support. Airbus was told that way back when the project was in development. The fact that no US airline would order any in what is certainly the most attractive national airline market in the world is compelling. Boeing’s low-cost option, the 747-8, also died a painful death, although there appears to be some strong cargo demand for the 8.

    If you want to ride one, my advice would be move fast. Except for Emirates, I doubt most airlines will have them around much longer.

    1. There is a fairly strong argument that the 747 most likely the cargo version will still be flying when the A380 is not the 747 will also take off with more than a million pounds up total weight it was designed as a freighter as the SST was supposed to take over the passenger aspect and I would argue any jet precise and expanse of the A380 to put more like a sexy lady then a pregnant whale I understand function over form but the 747 got both of them right function and form and probably the most remarkable thing about the 747 is that it went from papers to production and 30 months or just under it that was phenomenal considering the lack of computer power of the past to the present but in the end money wins out the A380 is too expensive to fly so United won’t be buying any of them and Boeing Triple 7 x has a large capacity and it’s probably half the price or less of the A380 to fly and maintain it’s somewhat ironic the impetus 4 the seven four seven and a 380 were somewhat similar .Juan Tripp also wanted to build a monument Airbus just started 20 years too late

  5. Korean flies the a380 out of JFK Terminal 1 (worst international terminal in the country), at least they did up until last year.

    1. Zach – Yep, I mentioned JFK in there. Korean is either 1 or 2 a day into JFK depending upon the season. Right now it’s 1 with the other flight on a 747-8.

  6. It looks like at some point I need to make a trip to Germany. This way, I can take an A380 out and a 747-8 back.

    1. I live in DFW, but I did just that, on purpose. LAX->FRA and then coming back FRA->IAH.

      Just to have those two.

    2. It’s one of the great things of living near Dulles. You see the A380 and 748 daily. I’ve never been on either of these planes, so I too am hoping to do a Europe trip soon so I can try out both of these rare birds.

  7. I’m not sure I agree with others that the 380 was an ego play. The 747 didn’t have a real competitor for decades. Airbus started studying a super jumbo back in the late 1980’s when Boeing was just releasing the 747-400. I don’t think anyone at that time was envisioning the death knell of 4 engine jets or smaller variants that could go ultra long and thin routes. In reality it was technology that killed the A380. Now I will agree that ego is what drove the 380 to absurd proportions but I’m sure in Toulouse they felt the need to differentiate. Yes it’s a comfortable aircraft but I don’t necessarily like traveling together with that many people. I’d take an A330 with 2 abreast seating in Y on the window sides anytime over the 380, but that’s me.

    To me the saddest thing is we are now a world of two holers. The tri-jets died years ago and now the quads are officially gone. Plane spotting is just a bit less exciting.

    1. I’m not sure that even back in the late 80s/early 90s there was enough demand to support two jumbo/superjumbo projects. McDonnell-Douglas came to that conclusion when they scrapped the MD-12 project, although financially it would have been a major stretch even with risk-sharing partners.

      I have to agree with you about the spotting, though – besides the loss of the trijets and the quads, the T-tail has died out on mainline as well. All boring underwing twinjets. sigh…

      1. By 1995, Boeing had rolled out the 777-200, which was quickly introduced into United’s fleet (N777UA). That was the death knell for the four-poppers.

        The 777 had almost as much capacity as the 747, was exponentially more efficient and had as much if not more range. And, four engines are much less expensive to maintain that two.

        Airbus’ answer was A340, another four-popper, and Airbus tried to argue the safety angle — that four engines are better than two for ultra long-range travel. That dog didn’t hunt either and Airbus was late to the party again, with the A330.

        The notion that the market evolved AFTER the A380 was in production is absurd. The Boeing 767 proved what could be done with two engines and 777 perfected it.

        1. The 777-200 wasn’t the 747-killer. It was a DC-10/L-1011 replacement that competed with the A330/A340 and MD-11. It wasn’t until the 777-300ER that made the 747 obsolete.

          Airbus developed the A330 and A340 in tandem, though initially the A340 was envisioned as the long-haul airplane more than the A330.

    2. I think by the time Airbus announced the A380 and then insulted Boeing about their future plans (the 787). Yet, it’s Boeing who got the better of that battle. At that point, 747 passenger jet sales were already slowing. Plus, there is no US based airline that could make use of a jet that huge. This country is too spread out for any airline to really make use of that huge monstrosity.

  8. Wonderful design-or-construction-methods disruptors that “scream ‘not successful’” by not breaking even (yet): RB211, Concorde, CS series, B787……

    Sent from Mail for Windows 10

  9. While the A380 is a majestic aircraft, I hate to see it leave the skies. Unfortunately, neither of the international airports that I fly into on a regular basis are served by an a380.

  10. Don’t agree it shouldn’t have been built – Airbus made a calculated decision that, ultimately, was the wrong one; but hedged it’s bets by having the A350 and A330neo in development. Had a US legacy carrier ordered some, it might have been a different story – but, I guess, every other legacy carrier was going in and out of Chapter 11 post-9/11 and spending obscene amounts of cash on a non-US product was the last thing on their minds.

    As a passenger, the A380 is a beautiful plane; I’ve only flown on SQ A380’s and only in Y, but the experience and comfort is always vastly superior to any 747 in Y, or C, for that matter. I will always choose routings and timings that allow me to fly it out East instead of 773’s (I can fly on a 777, 787, 767, 757 any time I want to go to the US). The pilots love it, too. I hope it flies for at least another decade (and, Brett, depending on who you talk to, it’s already covered its development costs).

    1. How would it be possible to recover development costs if they’ve delivered ~234 (as of Jan 2019). I presume they discounted the most recent frames quite a bit more than the initial deliveries to keep the factory open?

    2. Airbus admitted long ago that they had to sell at least 420 aircraft to break even:

      The A380 never really made sense for a US carrier – even if they were all financially sound in the 2000s. The A380 works for Emirates because it has a single hub where all connecting traffic is handled and limited O/D traffic. For US airlines with multiple hubs that need to increase capacity to a destination, it makes more sense to add a flight from another hub. Connecting traffic might flow more efficiently over a different hub and they can take advantage of O/D demand from a new market served with a direct flight.

      1. I’m coming back through LAX, so no 747 available. My plan is to take Lufthansa in the next couple of years.

  11. While clearly Boeing was right that there is room in the market for long-range smaller widebodies, I think it’s too simplistic to say that Airbus’s concept of the market was wrong. Airlines bought a TON of 777-300ERs in the A380’s early years of service, and that airplane doesn’t have too many fewer seats (although in many cases they’re less comfortable seats than those on the A380). And the 77W still flies a lot of those major hub-to-major hub routes that Airbus wanted the A380 to serve. But part of the problem was that the A380 was so long delayed in design and production that its economics were already 5 years out of date by the time it launched, and if an A380 didn’t get you lower seat costs or longer range than the 77W, why take the risk on the more expensive, harder-to-fill aircraft?

    1. @Bgrifff – not sure I fully buy your point about the 77W. yes its the next largest out there but, the Japanese pair are flying 77W with barely over 250 seats; Singapore’s are 280 seats, AF and BA’s with 300 seats, and EK’s have 350.

      A380’s are flown at their roomiest with 440 or so on board, most are in the 475-510 range. Emirates lowest config is 490 seats.

      That’s a huge increase. At least a 150 seats bigger, and having to sell an extra 30 premium seats per flight is a big deal.

    1. gotta add MD-11 to that list.

      And in both Lockheed and McD, those planes led to either a complete exit of commercial planes, or in McD’s, “merger” (aka bail out) into Boeing.

      At least Airbus has wildly successful A321neo and reasonably strong 350s to provide it with cashflow during that costly experiment.

      1. The MD-11 was largely due to bad timing with the A330, B777 and larger B767s all starting production around the same time. Similar for the L1011 with competition from the DC-10 and to a lesser extent with the A300 and lower demand due to the oil crises in the mid-1970s.

        The A380 was simply flawed (from a market perspective) from the outset.

    2. Such a shame the L1011 flopped as it did. A technological marvel when it came out. Rolls Royce let them down and they could never get the unit cost below the DC-10. Totally overengineered but I’d fly on a tri-star any day of the week, even today.

      1. The L1011 was a pre-deregulation speciality aircraft. Lockheed had only one other jet age commercial aircraft, the Electra, and the L-1011 was the first pure jet produced by Lockheed.

        The DC-10 and Tri-Star were in a category where one would survive. Period. Had one of the two never been produced, the other probably would have been wildly profitable. Douglas, with its jet age jump start and strong airline relationships, got the better of the two but I doubt even the DC-10 was profitable.

        Notably, the Tri-Star had neither disposable engines or defective cargo doors. The Tri-Star’s biggest problems were being flown into the Everglades, being flown through wind sheer in Dallas or being flown while someone cooked on a flight during the Haji in Saudi Arabia.

        1. Agreed. Compared to the DC-10, all of the incidents you mention were weather or pilot error (even SA163 as the crew should have evacuated immediately). Such a solid aircraft. The fact that they could fly it directly into the ground at 225+ MPH in the everglades and people survived speaks to its durability.

  12. Not that it would turn the A380 program from a loser to a winner,
    but I’m curious why they’re not suitable for conversion to freighters…

    1. Anthony – I can’t imagine so. They have a lot of dead weight on them.
      There was supposed to be a freighter version originally, but FedEx and UPS walked away when it became obvious it wasn’t a good plan. Airbus scrapped that idea. I can’t imagine a freighter conversion would look better.
      Certainly nobody would buy them off the line, but maybe if it’s cheap enough second-hand, someone might think about it.

    2. Why would you get an A380 freighter when you could get a B747 freighter (either new, used, or converted from passenger operations) which are ubiquitous and readily available?

    3. My understanding is that the A380’s cargo capacity (in terms of weight of cargo it can lift) is low relative to the interior space of the plane.

      Put another weight, it sounds like cargo carriers would likely hit the max weight on the A380 long before they filled up the cargo space on it.

      That said, perhaps someone will find a niche use for the A380 to haul large, relatively light parts, like wind turbine blades or something. If the price is right, people may get creative.

      1. That’s why the MD-11 has proven to be such a valuable cargo conversion. My dad was a “mighty dog” driver and always commented that it would “gross out” before it maxed out, meaning you would run out of space before you exceeded take off weight.

  13. Yes it is comfortable as a passenger, but that is more a sign of its age than anything else. I personally feel that the B787 is just as good if not better, and the A350 is better still than that, and ultimately the airlines decide on the actual seats, amenities, and cabin layout, not Airbus.

    In economy, on flights that are full, I feel that there are simply too many passengers to get as good or efficient service as smaller aircraft, across all airlines that I’ve flown on.

    For all flights on the A380, routesonline has a good list that seems to be updated every few months (I have no affiliation with them):

  14. What I find interesting, and kind of sad actually, is how the A380 that flew the very first commercial A380 flight for Singapore Airlines, couldn’t be sold after SQ retired it and now it’s in Tarbes, being scrapped. Considering that specific frame’s historical value, couldn’t they have at least sent it to a museum or something? I understand it’s getting scrapped because they were configured or built differently from the later builds, but I don’t get how that could have precluded it from being preserved. Heck, if they could preserve the first A320, the first 747, the first 747-400, the first 787, and the first 777 in museums, why not 9V-SKA?

  15. What many people discount is that the A380, in knocking the B747 from passenger sales, removed a huge cash cow from the Boeing portfolio. Just imagine how much profit Boeing would have made from selling 200 more 747s into a market with no competition. Top price and fixed costs all amortised. That may well have funded a MoM aircraft to really kill the A320/321. Airbus may think the A380 worth it just to keep a Boeing MoM from being funded.

    Add to that, who is to say that in 4-5 years, Emirates won’t be looking for a big 100 plane order? Who will be in a better position to get a production line up and running? Boeing? Or Airbus?

    1. Mark – I don’t think I’d agree that if the A380 weren’t around, those would have all gone to Boeing. I think you might have seen a few more orders, but I’d bet the bulk would have been split between the 777-300ER and the A350-1000. And had the A380 not been built, they might have been able to put more resources into getting the A350 built quicker.

      1. Except that most of those A380 orders came from Emirates which was also buying B777. If, Emirates preferred the A380 over the B777, surely it would have used the same calculation if it was B777 vs B747.

        1. Mark – Neither of us will likely every know, but I imagine the calculation is a lot different. The 747-8 isn’t all that much bigger than the 777-300ER, at least not compared to the A380. So the calculation might be different for Emirates in a world without the A380.

          1. That’s true. However, in that case, by selling the A380, Airbus still prevented Boeing from selling at least 200 planes which would have gone a long way towards design and certification of a MoM competitor.

            The end point of the strategy is that Airbus has a portfolio of airplanes from A380 down to the A220. All of them relatively modern. Boeing has no A380 competitor, and still no MoM, and is playing catch up to the A220 size. If Airbus had gone down the road of developing the A350, and no A380, it ran a big risk that Boeing would be able to sweep the market with the B777. After all, Boeing had the Emirates market sewn up, so was in a very good position to sweep the board. That would have left Airbus with nothing at all at the big end of the market, and Boeing with enough cash flow to fund it’s MoM competition to Airbus.

            What’s a better outcome for Airbus? A full range portfolio of modern aircraft plus no Boeing MoM yet? Or Airbus having a struggling A350 (maybe), no A380, and Boeing with an order book full for a MoM in production?

    2. Maybe.

      On the flip side, would Boeing have even bothered to built the 747-8 if the A380 hadn’t been there? The 747-8 was clearly an attempt to make at least some kind of semi-competitive offering. So, imagine that there’s no A380 and no 747-8. How many 747-400s would have been sold against, say, the 777-300ER, or the A350 (I agree that something like the A350 would have come along sooner in a non-A380 world)?

      I think the answer to that is pretty clear — very few.

      I don’t think Boeing would have bothered with the 747-8 absent the A380, for the reason that almost all that demand would have gone to the 777 instead.

      It’s hard to argue that the A380 has made a very big impact, with the sole (but significant) exception of Emirates. The A380 has had a massive impact on the city of Dubai and the prominence of Emirates. But outside of that, it’s had a minor impact for the reason that it’s a small fraction of most fleets.

  16. Great article and many great comments–

    Two more points–

    1–big or small essentially all commercial passenger jets operate at roughly the same cruise speed (often further restricted by ATC);

    2-The more seats/passengers, the longer the boarding and disembarkation process–so getting on or off a 737 is already slow and boring, but getting on or off a large wide-body can be an hour;

    So the total experience on a jumbo jet is probably slower than on a narrow-body.

  17. Fantastic plane for the economy passenger, super quiet, and roomy(perception is everything) the airlines couldn’t get the 11 a breast to fit :)

    I’m lucky enough to have many operators using it to where I regularly fly, so I am one of the few that does choose the A380 over other aircraft types.

    The decision is understandable, business is business apart from having to fill it, some insight from someone with skin in the game.

  18. I have to agree. The A380 was a dream to fly on, but I never understood how anyone could fill that plane. It’s the quietest jet I’ve been on and I was in the upper deck behind the wing on a flight from LHR to DXB (Qantas). I’d fly on another one if I got the chance.

  19. I wonder if someone might see a business model for an airline with used A380s in an ultra low cost carrier set-up, built around popular long-haul / international routes: London-Orlando (Disney), New York-Honolulu, London-Sydney, London-Las Vegas, Frankfurt-Bangkok.

  20. This might be the case in Prague (daily service between PRG and DXB). Strangely enough, I’m not 100% sure although it’s my home town and I’ve flown this line serveral times.

  21. As the quietest and most comfortable plane in the air, the A380 will be greatly missed by the flying public. Unfortunately it doesn’t earn enough money for the airlines and only a few of the airlines (mostly middle Eastern ones) operate the “hub and spoke” system that makes it worthwhile. I always choose the A380 to fly in when I have the option.

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