The world’s largest passenger jet, the A380, is making its first journey in 15 months. The plane will take off on Monday from Paris, where Lufthansa Flight 99 will arrive in Madrid, where the last of its crew members will accept their jobs upon takeoff. The flight is scheduled to take 10 hours and 40 minutes. It may be just about the last you see of the massive aircraft. Airbus has announced it is withdrawing from the passenger jet market to focus on leasing the planes rather than making them. CEO Tom Enders says the move is necessary as Airbus takes a step back from the market “while we undergo a fundamentally new approach to a lot of our core activities.”
This says something about the past decade and a half of the A380’s life and tells us more about the future of jet travel. When it first came out in 2005, the Airbus giant was meant to provide the mega-size aircraft equivalent of the Concorde, but its ability to carry more than 4,000 passengers for 18 hours had only been matched by its higher costs. Sales never materialized, and most of the production planes made their way to maintenance shops. The A380 has amassed a total of nearly 1,000 flights after spending over 15 years in the air, and is perhaps the most successful airliner of its kind. But it will no longer fly as of this week, and over the coming years Airbus is expected to stop using the superjumbo on short-haul flights.
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