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

Feb 27, 2020

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

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.

For more TPG news delivered each morning to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.

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.)

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 photo by  Raphael GAILLARDE/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card

Earn 90,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 in purchases within the first three months of card membership. Plus, earn a $200 statement credit after your first Delta purchase within the first three months. Offer ends 7/28/21.

With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 90,000 Bonus Miles after spending $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months and a $200 statement credit after you make a Delta purchase with your new Card within your first 3 months. Offer expires 7/28/2021.
  • Limited Time Offer: Plus, get a 0% intro APR on purchases for 12 months from the date of account opening, then a variable 15.74%-24.74%. Offer expires 7/28/2021.
  • Accelerate your path to Medallion Status, with Status Boost®. Plus, in 2021 you can earn even more bonus Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) to help you reach Medallion Status.
  • Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
  • Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
  • Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. *Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
  • Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
  • Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
  • Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • $250 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Intro APR on Purchases
0% on purchases for 12 months
Regular APR
15.74%-24.74% Variable
Annual Fee
$250
Balance Transfer Fee
N/A
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.