A German investment company said it would strip two unwanted Airbus A380 superjumbo passenger jets for parts after failing to find an airline willing to keep them flying following a decision by Singapore Airlines not to keep them in service.
According to a Reuters report, the decision by Dortmund-based Dr Peters Group deals a fresh blow to the plane maker’s efforts to maintain market interest in the double-decker, barely 10 years after it went into service hailed by heads of state as a symbol of European ambition.
“Psychologically it is not good for Airbus, but this is a very large aircraft with a very small second-hand market,” the report quoted UK-based aerospace analyst Howard Wheeldon.
The planes will not be scrapped entirely, but their huge frames will be combed for valuable components such as landing gears and electronics, Reuters quoted a Dr Peters official.
Their engines have already been removed and leased back to manufacturer Rolls-Royce for use as spares. US-based VAS Aero Services will be responsible for extracting and selling parts. Dr Peters said the deal would yield a positive return for investors in funds used to finance the jets.
It operates a number of boutique funds targeted at wealthy individuals and has two more A380s in Singapore that could face the same fate.
Despite strong reviews for its quiet and spacious cabin, demand for the 544-seater has fallen as many airlines drop the industry’s largest four-engined aircraft in favour of smaller twin-engined ones that are more efficient, and easier to fill.
“It’s too big. There was a battle for airline fashions and it lost out,” Wheeldon said.
Airbus said it could comment on the decision by Dr Peters, however, expressed confidence in the secondary market for the A380 and the potential to extend the operator base.
Singapore Airlines launched A380 services in December 2007 but returned the first two aircraft to their German financiers when leases expired some 10 years later. The two discarded aircraft were repainted and flown to Tarbes in the French Pyrenees to be stored, and since then their fate has been uncertain as their owner looked for other takers.
“After extensive as well as intensive negotiations with various airlines such as British Airways, HiFly and IranAir, Dr Peters Group has decided to sell the aircraft components and will recommend this approach to its investors,” the company said in a statement e-mailed to Reuters.