Earlier this year, the largest operator of the Airbus A380, Emirates retired their first A380. The aircraft, the second to be delivered to the airline back in 2008 and registered A6-EDB was withdrawn from service on the 23rd of February 2020 after operating its final commercial route from Muscat (MCT) to Dubai (DXB).
A6-EDB, MSN13, was the 13th A380 to be built and entered service on October 27 2008, operating from Dubai (DXB) to New York (JFK). The aircraft flew with the airline for 11.5 years. After being withdrawn from service, the aircraft was flown to Dubai’s second airport DWC for storage in February 2020.
In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and whilst Emirates had parked the majority of its fleet at DWC for storage, A6-EDB was brought back to Emirates’ hub DXB. In May the aircraft completed a test flight before it entered maintenance.
The aircraft was then spotted, in an all-white livery. The aircraft remained parked at DXB until October 2020, when the aircraft performed a test flight.
— Saeed Sultan (@Saeed_AlAli) June 12, 2020
On October 27 2020, 12 years to the day since it entered service, the aircraft was ferried to Tarbes-Lourdes (LDE) in France for permanent retirement.
Since the aircraft has arrived in Tarbes, its engines have been removed. In recent images taken in December 2020. The aircraft has had its wingtips removed. A6-EDB is also missing a number of panels underneath its wings and on side of the fuselage towards the underbelly. This aircraft’s future is as of yet, unknown, however, it is likely to be scrapped as it looks like the process has already begun.
Future of the A380 with Emirates
Emirates have stated they expect to return all their A380s to service by the end of 2022. Currently, the airline has 117 in their fleet, with 5 more expected to be delivered over 2021 and 2022. Emirates was meant to retire 2 more A380s in 2020, however, no more have left the fleet just yet. The aircraft have likely already been withdrawn, but are just parked in storage at DWC.
The A380 will fly with Emirates a while yet, however, the exact number that will remain in the fleet is not known. The number could vary massively and probably depends on how the aviation industry bounces back from the COVID-19 pandemic. In December 2020, Emirates took delivery of 3 A380s, 1 of which contains the airline’s new Premium Economy cabin.
Other A380’s at Tarbes
Tarbes is currently home to 12 A380s from a variety of airlines. These are 2 ex-Singapore Airlines aircraft, 1 ex-Emirates aircraft, 6 ex-Air France aircraft, 3 Etihad aircraft). All of these A380s face uncertain futures.
Etihad has indefinitely grounded their A380 although they may return, whilst the 2 ex Singapore A380s are set to be scrapped. The Air France aircraft are also likely to be scrapped given the second-hand A380 market is currently all but dead.
Singapore Airlines’ first 2 A380s were also stored at Tarbes, however, they were scrapped between 2018 and 2020. Both 9V-SKA and 9VSKB were made into Aviationtags.
The A380’s future
Personal Note on A6-EDB
I have flown A6-EDB 3 times.
Once in 2014, 2018 and 2019.
A6-EDB is also an aircraft that had a technical issue in Sydney back in April 2018, meaning I was stuck onboard for a number of hrs. We then had to get a new aircraft. If this flight continued I would have flown A6-EDB 4 times
Thanks to Ragnarok31 for allowing us to use his images. Check out his Flickr