It’s 10 years since Airbus’ largest commercial aircraft took to the skies for the first time, becoming an overnight sensation as millions from across the globe watched in awe.
Since then, passengers have gone out of their way to fly on the A380, while airlines count on it to boost their revenue.
More than 300 have already been sold, with an A380 taking off or landing around the world every four minutes.
The wings for the aircraft are made in a specially designed factory in Broughton before being transported to the final assembly line in Blagnac, France.
Because of the sheer size of the wings, they can’t be flown by air in one of the manufacturer’s five Belugas like the rest of the Airbus fleet. Instead, the wings are carried by rail, road or boat.
The first A380 flight took place in Toulouse on April 27, 2005, and the aircraft entered into commercial service with Singapore Airlines in October 2007.
The plane has since accumulated more than two million flight hours in over 230,000 revenue flights, flying in and out of 164 airports across the globe.
As of February this year, 85 million people had flown one of the 96 different routes - 60% more than the A380’s main competition, the Boeing 747-400.
At the end of March this year, Airbus had firm orders for 317 aircraft from 17 different companies, including 140 for Emirates, 24 for Singapore Airlines, 12 for Air France and 12 for British Airways.
It is said to be more economic than the 747-400, as well as quieter, much to the delight of many households living near airports.
Matt Gorman, Heathrow Airport’s sustainability director, said in September last year: “The A380 is a vital piece in the jigsaw for the airport. It’s part of our constant drive to encourage the quietest and greenest planes to come to Heathrow.”
John Leahy, chief operating officer for customers at Airbus, praised the A380 and explained why it was preferred to its Boeing equivalent.
He added: “I hate to use examples for individual airlines but this is so obvious I am sure British Airways doesn’t mind.
“They had three 747s flying from London Heathrow to LA every day, and passengers were happy.
“They realized they could put two A380s on the same route.
“They made more money, the passengers were even happier, and market share improved because the aircraft is comfortable and the seats are bigger. It’s much quieter, so it’s a win-win.
“The airline is happy because they make more money, and the passenger is happy because he has a better flight.”
He added: “The A380 is about twice the size of a 787 or even our own A350, so we have 350s to compete with the 787.
“But no airline in the world would think that an A380 and 787 are comparable aircraft and could be substituted for each other.
“You would need two 787 flights to handle the passengers on one A380, and it would cost you more money and would burn more fuel and make more noise. That’s not a win-win for anybody.”