British Airways' Airbus A380 arrives to Washington Dulles International Airport for its inaugural arrival, in Dulles, Virginia on Oct. 2, 2014. File Photo by UPI/Molly Riley. | License Photo
BLAGNAC, France, April 27 (UPI) -- The Airbus A380, jumbo-jet workhorse, enters its 10th year of production this week with no orders from a new airline customer in two years.
The aircraft, built by a consortium of French, Spanish, German and British manufacturers, can carry over 500 people, depending on how many bars, showers and other luxuries each plane contains.
The jet was rolled out to acclaim in 2005 as a solution to overcrowded airports and as the future of modern aviation. Today it needs a promotional boost, prompting Airbus to organize a campaign involving members of its sales, engineering, marketing and design staffs.
"It's true the market hasn't developed as much as we've liked. This plane was probably launched 10 years too early," said Fabrice Bregier, Airbus chief executive.
A proposal from Tim Clark of Emirates Airlines suggested new engines would improve the planes, adding his airline might expand by 200 newly-outfitted planes.
A more common idea, and one to which Airbus is dedicating its efforts, is to bring the plane back to its original purpose; bulk delivery of passengers. Ten-abreast seating in the economy section will be reconfigured to 11 seats per row, and space-occupying perks like bars and duty-free shopping area, will be eliminated in favor of additional seats.
Planes already in use are also facing adjustments. Emirates, which has 60 A380s in use and orders for 80 more, will remove much of the plane's first-class seating in favor of economy seats, boosting capacity to 615 people on some planes. The Russian carrier Transaero claims it has designed the configuration to accomodate 652 passengers.
Still, the Airbus A380 has only had 317 orders since it was announced in 2000; about 1,200 were projected in its first 20 years. No U.S. airline has ordered the plane, and only five were ordered in China, the world's fastest-growing aviation market.
Airbus no longer takes a loss on each A380 built, although it admits it will never recover its $25 billion investment in the program.