It was a technical masterpiece that both pilot and passenger loved, but it didn’t do what any commercial venture needs to: make money. Thomas Haynes details why one of Airbus’ largest gambles hasn’t paid off.
Following 12 years of studies, Airbus unveiled the £8.5 billion A380 programme in December 2000. The initial aim of the initiative was to challenge the dominance of the Boeing 747 in the long-haul market – but ultimately, the A380 is going the same way as Boeing’s much-loved jumbo.
The stated goal at the time was for a 15% lower operating cost than the 747-400. Prior to launching the A380 project, Airbus had attempted to enter into a venture with Boeing, along with a consortium of several companies, to conduct a joint feasibility study of a Very Large Commercial Transport (VLCT) aircraft, aiming to form a partnership to share the limited market.