A marvel of the air that no one needed
Don’t let yesterday’s rivalries shape how you plan for the future, said Kyle Stock. That’s the lesson of the Airbus A380. Airbus finally grounded the A380, announcing last week that it was ending production after just 11 years—practically supersonic for the aircraft business. The plane was originally conceived in the late 1990s to conquer Boeing’s 747 in size, range, and “Instagram-worthy features,” such as enclosed suites, bartenders, showers, and waterfalls. But the corporate strategy on this super-plane was “suspect from the start.” When Airbus embarked on the A380 project, “Boeing’s big bird was 31 years old and already starting its long, gradual descent.” In trying to outdo it, Airbus forgot about its core customer. True, governments across Europe loved the “sprawling $25 billion supply chain.” New airlines such as Emirates wanted to burnish their brands. For most airlines, however, the glamour didn’t matter. “The A380 may have been a marketer’s dream, but it was a logistical nightmare. Airports had to be rebuilt just to handle them, and smaller planes were required to wait longer to take off or land behind one.” It’s telling that airlines in the U.S. did not order a single A380. When the novelty wore off, it was clear the plane was really headed for just one destination: the scrap heap.