Earlier this month, Guangzhou-based airline China Southern operated its last Airbus A380 flight from Los Angeles to Guangzhou, marking the end of an era in China for the largest passenger plane in the world.
The Last Flight:
On November 6th, 2022, the last active China Southern A380, registered B-6139, took off from Los Angeles International Airport as a regularly scheduled flight CZ328 to Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport to complete its last flight with the airline. China Southern’s retirement of the A380s was unannounced, but this flight was filed as the last one for the aircraft type in China Southern’s fleet.
Why China Southern Retired the Airbus A380?
During the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, China Southern was the only airline to continue operating the A380 despite steep drops in travel demand and near-empty flights. Several other operators of the A380 had instead decided to retire the aircraft type or move their fleet of A380s into long-term storage.
China Southern was the only airline in China to have operated the A380. Although China has the largest population in the world, the A380 was, nevertheless, unable to find success in the country.
The Airbus A380 itself has found difficulty with success since its inception intended to ease the congestion of highly demanded routes, the A380 utilized 4 engines and required a large volume of passengers for its flights in order to be cost-efficient. However, airlines that operated the A380 often found the planes unfilled, which meant that flights operated by the quad-engined A380 proved far less economical and efficient than those operated by twin-engine jets such as the Boeing 777 or Airbus A350. The A380 was overall not economically viable, and Airbus ended production for the type in 2021.
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For China Southern, this issue is even further exacerbated due to the ongoing border restrictions in China for travel.
The Airbus A380 consequently resulted in significant losses for China Southern throughout its years in service. Unable to meet demands for the A380, the only practical option for China Southern was to retire the giant aircraft. The airline has lost over $20 billion with the A380.
The China Southern A380 was a staple visitor to Los Angeles International Airport. The giant aircraft was a notable and luring sight for many plane spotters. China Southern’s route between Los Angeles and Guangzhou was one of only a few routes to be served with the A380 in the United States, and the A380’s unannounced and uneventful removal from this route has been a disappointing change of events for aviation enthusiasts around.
Cover Image: AeroXplorer