The end of the line for one of aviation’s most ambitious and ultimately costly programs came with a low pass and a wing wag from an A380 destined for Emirates on Thursday. The final double decker aircraft to come off the assembly line at Toulouse Blagnac Airport in southern France, MSN 272, took off for Frankfurt where it will be painted and the interior fitted for Emirates. Airbus announced two years ago the type would be discontinued just 14 years after the first delivery to Singapore Airlines in 2007.

In all-economy configuration, the Super Jumbo can hold up to 853 passengers but most airlines opted for a mix of classes with 500-600 seats, not a lot more than the new generation of more efficient twin-engine long-range aircraft like the Boeing 787 and Airbus’s own A350. Airbus spent $25 billion developing the huge aircraft and sold 251. Many of those are now stored because of the pandemic downturn. 

Russ Niles
Russ Niles is Editor-in-Chief of AVweb. He has been a pilot for 30 years and joined AVweb 22 years ago. He and his wife Marni live in southern British Columbia where they also operate a small winery.


  1. Reminds us just what a game-changer AND SUCCESS the 747 was and, after more than half a century in production and use, still is.
    As for that video….Being an Airbus, I’m kind of surprised/relieved the low pass didn’t conclude by mushing into a forest off the departure end.

  2. Another ignorant cheap shot. That 320 loss was pure and simply “pilot unprofessionalism and error”.

    • Well said Paul. Wise Old Man needs to read the mishap report before he makes such misinformed comments!

  3. My only experience on A380s has been as a passenger in steerage. For me I thought it was the most comfortable aircraft for passengers on long haul flights. Always chose it if there was a flight using it on my route. Mostly Lufthansa and their boarding/exiting procedures were exemplary. As a passenger I am sorry to see it go.

  4. Never flew on one, but I had experience with some airports that were wrestling with how to accommodate the beast for parking and ingress/egress. The cost to modify terminals for the double-decker gate arrangement and the loss of parking space due to the wingspan created huge costs for the airports. In the end, the small number of 380s that flew into the U.S. did not justify the expense, so the airports usually ended up with less than ideal terminal arrangements. I don’t know how the airports accommodated the craft overseas, so maybe they ran the process better. I for one, am not sorry, nor surprised to see it go.

    • To the best of my knowledge at my home airport SFO there was one Gate at the International Terminal for the A380. It was at the far end of the terminal and in that location there was plenty of room for the aircraft and two level boarding. The airports I flew into on the 380 all seemed to have boarding and deplaning smoothly worked out.

  5. Wow – ‘Ignorant’ Old Man – really unnecessary and ill informed comment.
    The short lived production of the A380 is no surprise to me. I recall watching a docu on the design, build and assembly way back around the time it first flew and thinking there is no way this airplane will succeed in the long run. Two primary reasons IMO:
    1. Overly complicated manufacturing and assembly process. With the geographically dispersed assembly facilities, and the dependence on weather, tides, and road closures to move massive structures from one location to another, there were bound to be major issues.
    2. The cost related to facilitating this behemoth at airports around the world was just not going to be worth it to many facilities.

    Nevertheless, I am sorry production has ended. Whilst nothing beats the queen of the sky (747) for sheer majesty, I loved seeing the A380 and I loved flying on it. I did several trips between Johannesburg and Dubai on Emirates. Cattle class was probably the most comfortable I have ever flown (I’m 6’4″ 210lbs). Business class was simply superb. Flying the leg between Dubai to Chicago on the 777 in either class was a significant downgrade from the A380. The A380 was more quiet and way more spacious in both cabins.
    I hope to be able to fly on the A380 again, unlike the 747.

  6. I wish I could have flown the A-380, but my company cancelled their orders and it was not meant to be.. The A-380, was the right airplane, at the wrong time.. One person at Airbus made the decision whether to go ahead with production, when marketing and industry experts should have had more say so.. Only 14 years in production, the A-380 was not meant to be..

    • “The right airplane at the wrong time”. Very true. From an engineering and technology standpoint, it was the logical extension from the jumbo jet to the super jumbo. Unfortunately, even while the plane was being designed and built, the way people fly was changing. Had the world stuck with the hub and spoke concept for flying, the A380 could have been the dominant mover from hub to hub of large masses of passengers. But, flying has become more decentralized and smaller jets are needed to carry fewer people on direct flights, rather than flying to the hub and changing planes. Hub and spoke still exists for flights between major world capitols, but the number of planes needed to fill that role does not justify continued production. Now if Elon Musk gets the Starship up and running for 60 minute jumps between Shanghai and London, things will get really interesting.