Airbus’ Global Market Forecast from the year 2000 predicted that 1,235 “very large aircraft” would be delivered to customers between 2000 and 2019. But as of January 2019, Airbus had received 313 firm orders and delivered just 234 aircraft.

The firm’s lofty target was swiftly undermined by the arrival of more fuel-friendly offerings such as Airbus’s own A350 or Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner.

The smaller aircraft were lighter and could be run more efficiently as the expectation of a steep rise in passenger travel failed to materialize. It was also found that very few routes could operate the A380 at full capacity.

Timing does seem to have been a problem. As the A380 hit the world’s runways, a worldwide liberalization of flight routes known as “Open Skies” was underway. This allowed airlines to downsize their planes and fly more regularly.

Added to that is the rise of the ultra long-haul flight. Airlines have asked both Boeing and Airbus to come up with planes that can haul passengers from one side of the world without stopping.

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