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The Airbus A380 rolled through a French town for the last time

Feb. 27, 2020
4 min read
The Airbus A380 rolled through a French town for the last time
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The biggest passenger airplane in the world, and a TPG favorite, is about to fly into the dustbin of history. But before it does, the Airbus A380 has some spectacular tricks left to show the world. On Thursday night, it performed one of them for the last time.

A convoy of trucks transporting A380 parts ready to be assembled traversed the French village of Lévignac, on the way to the Airbus plant near Toulouse. Since the European planemaker began building A380s in the mid-2000s, it's been a ritual happening a few times a year, with the entire village turning out to see the giant pieces wheeled through the town, dwarfing the houses. Thursday was when the last full six-truck convoy — including three pieces of the fuselage, the tail, and the wings — passed through Lévignac, with just inches to spare.

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A French-based photographer who monitors closely the Airbus assembly plant in Toulouse tweeted a video of the event.

A380s, like all modern jetliners, are assembled from components built around the world. Because of its sheer size, getting those components to the Toulouse assembly plant is a gigantic logistical undertaking: the wings are built in the U.K., the front half of the fuselage in France and the back half in Germany, the tail in Spain and Germany — a completed A380 includes parts from dozens of countries. Airbus has a fleet of ships, barges and trucks that bring all those pieces to France, while the engines, built in the U.K. and U.S., can be flown to Toulouse on cargo jets.

The pieces are so massive that French authorities had to widen roads and modify intersections along the way, creating a special path for the A380, known in French as Itineraire à Grand Gabarit or "large-size itinerary." The IGG even has its own site, run by the French Environment Ministry, where you can see schedules and plan a visit along the route for the dates when the convoys are rolling. (Always at night, to minimize disruption to civilian traffic.)

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While this was the last full convoy, including six trucks, there will be another, smaller one, an Airbus spokesperson told TPG in an email. It will be in April, carrying just the fuselage for an A380 the company identified as "MSN 272." That stands for the 272nd aircraft off the line, as identified by manufacturer's serial number. According to a list published by independent site Planespotters and confirmed by Airbus, MSN272 will go to Emirates and will be the very last A380 made. The assembly line will close for good in 2021, but Emirates will continue flying its many A380s for years. Other airlines are likely to keep flying A380s too, at least until the 2030s. "Airbus provides continuing support and improvement on this fleet," the company spokesperson said.

According to Airbus, there are just nine A380s left to deliver to customers: eight will go to Emirates and one, in April, to All Nippon Airways.

Related reading: 10 fun facts about the Airbus A380

While the double-decker giant has been a commercial failure, it's popular with passengers, who appreciate its quiet, stable ride and ample room — although whether your experience matches that perception might largely depend on what airline and class you fly. You might get a subpar premium-economy product on Air France, or a flight for the ages in Etihad's first class. Either way, you can still get on an A380 using your points and miles.

Featured image by Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

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    The Points Guy Exclusive Offer: Earn 150,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases with the Business Platinum Card® within the first 3 months of Card Membership.

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    670-850
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Why We Chose It

It's hard to find a card that competes with the mile-long list of benefits that come with the Amex Business Platinum. While it's certainly not the card for the average consumer, a business owner with tons of expenses -- especially related to travel -- will find this card incredibly valuable. This card is similar to the consumer version that Amex offers, but with more business-oriented perks around statement credits and earning rates that are a better fit for business owners.

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  • Access to the Fine Hotels & Resorts program and Hotel Collection
  • Extended warranty protection
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  • Steep annual fee
  • Difficulty meeting $15,000 welcome offer for smaller businesses
  • Limited high-bonus categories outside of travel
  • The Points Guy Exclusive Offer: Earn 150,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases with the Business Platinum Card® within the first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • Get 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com, and 1X points for each dollar you spend on eligible purchases.
  • Earn 1.5X points (that’s an extra half point per dollar) on eligible purchases at US construction material & hardware suppliers, electronic goods retailers and software & cloud system providers, and shipping providers, as well as on purchases of $5,000 or more everywhere else, on up to $2 million of these purchases per calendar year.
  • Unlock over $1,000 in annual statement credits on a curation of business purchases, including select purchases made with Dell Technologies, Indeed, Adobe, and U.S. wireless service providers.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit: Get up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year for checked baggage fees, lounge day passes, and more at one selected airline.
  • $189 CLEAR® Credit: Use your Card and get up to $189 back per year on your CLEAR® membership. CLEAR® is available at more than 50 U.S. airports and stadiums.
  • The American Express Global Lounge Collection® can provide an escape at the airport. With more than 1,400 airport lounges across 140 countries and counting, you have more lounge location options than any other credit card on the market as of 9/2021.
  • $695 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.