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There were only 6 Airbus A380s airborne in the entire world today

April 01, 2020
3 min read
There were only 6 Airbus A380s airborne in the entire world today
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The coronavirus pandemic is doing strange things to commercial aviation. One of the most evident effects of the crisis is that airlines fly only a fraction of the flights they ran before the pandemic erupted — and that's clear at a glance when looking at flight-tracker sites. On Wednesday morning, Flightradar24 showed that there were only six Airbus A380s airborne in the entire world. The biggest passenger jet ever made has almost disappeared from the skies.

Demand is just too small to justify flying it. Emirates, the biggest airline in the world by international passengers carried and also the largest operator of the Airbus jet, has grounded most of its flights and all of its A380s. That has dealt a major blow to current operations of the double-decker. The vast majority of the world's A380s are parked pending a return of demand. The only ones airborne on Wednesday were with Qatar Airways, China Southern and Thai Airways.

Screen cap from Flightradar24

The Flightradar map showed Thai's formerly daily flight from Frankfurt to Bangkok, now operating on a reduced frequency; Qatar's ultra-long-haul from Sydney, Australia, to the airline's home base in Doha; and the China Southern flight to Los Angeles, now operating just three times a week — probably near-empty, since most foreign citizens are no longer allowed into China. Those three flights were running under their normal scheduled flight numbers. The other flights, such as Qatar's QR3456, bore the flight numbers in the thousands that often indicate non-scheduled or one-off operations.

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Things are not much better these days for the other double-decker giant, the Boeing 747. At a glance, there were a lot of 747s flying at the same time we checked the A380 flights. But that's deceptive: Most of them were cargo flights operated by 747s configured as cargo-only carriers.

We counted only two passenger 747s airborne on Wednesday morning: British Airways Flight BA193 from London to Dallas-Fort Worth, a regularly scheduled service, and Air China Flight CA81 from Beijing to Milan. The latter might have been a flight transporting medical supplies, since CA81 is not a regularly scheduled service and the same flight number was used for a flight carrying aid supplies to Milan on March 15, according to an Italian news site.

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Screen cap from Flightradar24

The A380, an airplane known for its superlatives, will return in bigger numbers once the crisis passes, but not for long. With the assembly line winding down and just over 200 flying, it's headed for an early demise, probably serving until the 2030s at the latest. The 747 has a brighter future, but as cargo carrier rather than a passenger airplane, like the Boeing 767 — another jet whose retirement has been accelerated by the coronavirus crisis.

Featured image by A China Southern Airbus A380 landing at LAX (Photo by Alberto Riva/The Points Guy)

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TPG Editor‘s Rating
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Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
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  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023
Best card for premium perks while traveling
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
2X2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

    75,000 bonus miles
  • Annual Fee

    $395
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    740-850
    Excellent

Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,400+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and our Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023