Photo: Dr. Jean-Paul Rodrigue, 2013.
The first A380 was delivered in 2007 and represented the first complete double-deck commercial plane with a capacity of 525 passengers in a three classes configuration (more if two or single class configurations are used). Like preceding wide-body aircraft (e.g. B747, B777, A330), the main purpose of the A380 was to link major hub airports with high capacity long-haul services such as New York, London, Paris, Dubai, Hong Kong, and Singapore. Due to its large size, the A380 offers more options for seating configuration (e.g. first, business, premium economy, and economy), enabling maximization of revenue. It was not uncommon to have the whole second deck devoted to first and business classes (e.g. Emirates). Due to its large number of passengers, an A380 commonly required at least two sky bridge ramps (three more effective), which needed expanded air terminal infrastructure. During the Covid-19 pandemic, Air France mothballed its fleet of 10 A380 and by 2022 the aircraft was retired from the carrier’s operations.
However, other airlines restarted A380 flights as traffic levels recovered. The last A380 to be built was delivered to Emirates Airlines in December 2021. The carrier purchased 123 A380s, by far the largest number for any airline, and by mid-2022 about 70 were in active service.