HOW MUCH is an airliner worth if it is languishing on the tarmac, and may never fly passengers again? In the age of covid-19 that is the fate of many double-decker A380 superjumbos built by Airbus, Europe’s aerospace giant. Once seen by airlines as the future of commercial aviation, many are being retired early as covid-19 has cast a pall on the future of globe-trotting. Those still in service could be yours for a few million dollars.
The A380 was in trouble before the pandemic. Delays meant that by the time it at last flew it had to compete with smaller, more efficient jets. Only 14 airlines ever ordered the 500-plus seater, with Emirates, based in Dubai, operating nearly half the 242 planes delivered. After Emirates cancelled orders for 39 in February 2019, Airbus announced it was winding down production of the plane.
All aircraft have lost value as a result of covid-19. But the fall has been unusually steep for A380s. The model’s main attraction for airlines was to relieve congested runways at global hub airports. Now these are empty. Fewer than one in ten working A380s are plying the skies, according to Flightradar24, which tracks air traffic. Smaller craft are faring somewhat better.
The aviation industry may not recover until 2024, according to the International Air Transport Association, a trade group….