Superjumbo celebrations: Airbus A380 marks five years of flying

By David Flynn, October 25 2012
Superjumbo celebrations: Airbus A380 marks five years of flying

Five years ago today, on a typically tropical Singapore morning, the Airbus A380 leapt into the skies above Changi Airport on its first commercial flight, bound for Sydney and soaring in the colours of launch customer Singapore Airlines.

Frequent flyers will find it hard to fathom that a mere five years have passed since the superjumbo's debut.

The double-deck jet has become a relatively common sight at Sydney Airport, for example, with Qantas, Emirates and Singapore Airlines all flying the world's largest passenger aircraft, while Thai Airways expects to begin a Sydney-Bangkok A380 service late next year.

(Sadly, Malaysia Airlines last month abandoned plans to run an A380 from Sydney and Melbourne to Kuala Lumpur.)

A total of eight airlines have adopted the A380 as the flagship of their fleet, and others are on the waiting list – among them British Airways, Etihad, Qatar, Virgin Atlantic and Asiana Airlines.

Airbus has built 86 A380s and holds orders for a further 176, which list at A$377m (US$390m) each.

The majority of these will fall into a second-gen refresh of the A380, which will boost the aircraft's range by reducing its overall weight and squeezing extra power from the engines.

Watch as an A380 comes together piece by piece in this video.

Supersizing the superjumbo

But even bigger things are to come, with a supersized superjumbo capable of carrying 1,000 passengers due for launch in 2020.

Known as the A380-900, it's a big brother to the current A380-800.

Despite the project being shelved in May 2010 due to soft demand, "we have a design for the A380-900 which can be reactivated at the appropriate time" says Bob Lange, Airbus vice-president of marketing for the A380.

"My best estimate of that appropriate time at the moment would probably be (to enter service) at the beginning of the next decade" Lang told Australian Business Traveller.

Essentially a stretched version of the original A380, Airbus says the A380-900 will carry at least 100 more travellers.

"We have airlines today who tell us they love the A380 but it’s too small!" Airbus executive vice president Tom Williams told Australian Business Traveller earlier this year.

The estimated headcount is 650 passengers in a standard multi-class configuration and over 900 passengers if filled with with economy-only seating. Lufthansa and Air France-KLM had reportedly expressed interest in a 1,000 seat version of the A380-900.

Follow Australian Business Traveller on Twitter: we're @AusBT.


David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

26 Oct 2012

Total posts 8

I like the A380 but the downside is there are very few window seats where the view is not partially obscured by the wing and the seats I like(56A or 56K in the SIA configuration)  which do not have this problem mean a long wait to get out at the destination.

Hi Guest, join in the discussion on Superjumbo celebrations: Airbus A380 marks five years of flying