There has been plenty of speculation about the prospect of turning the Airbus A380 into a private jet as the type winds down its commercial career. However, the practicality of such a move is in question. Comlux Aviation is a world leader in handling exclusive aircraft operations and management services to VIPs from across the globe. The company’s CEO, Andrea Zanetto, explained to Simple Flying why the superjumbo wouldn’t work as a business jet.
The A380 was first introduced in October 2007, with Singapore Airlines being the first operator. However, it’s Emirates that is the largest holder, with 117 units currently in its fleet. With the production of the behemoth coming to an end, there have been questions about its role in the future.
At 2019’s Dubai Airshow, Airbus marketing director David Velupillai shared that there is an eventual possibility of having a corporate jet based on A380. He highlighted the plane’s popularity with passengers, along with its quietness and comfort, as reasons why it could be a good choice for the private sector.
With these statements in mind, Simple Flying took the opportunity to ask Comlux’s leadership about its thoughts. The firm was founded back in 2003 and has since been looking after VIP customers regarding the personal and professional management of their private aviation needs. Being such a driving force in the private industry, the company would undoubtedly understand the requirements of the market.
The drawbacks outweigh the benefits
Zanetto explains that there are too many limits that come with the deployment of the A380 as a private jet. He is a big fan of the aircraft, but there are notable restrictions and it would be impractical in business aviation.
“Well, I think not even governments would go that way, and for private, you generally don’t buy a castle if you want to have a luxury home. So, why buy a castle? Maybe a few people in the world will have a castle, but in the end, will not become cozy or nice to fly with. You cannot land anywhere. You just lean to main hubs. This is not an aircraft for private aviation. There are too many limitations on the aircraft. Why do you want to restrict yourself to fewer airports in the world?” Zanetto told Simple Flying.
“It’s a beautiful aircraft. It’s a pity that they stopped the manufacturing of it because it’s a beautiful experience to fly, but it’s nothing to do with private aviation.”
Moreover, much like the reasons that commercial carriers have to stop deploying the aircraft, private jet operators have similar concerns regarding efficiency. In an environmental and financial sense, the giant quadjet is hard to justify in the current climate.
Zanetto nonetheless affirms that even taking these factors out of the picture, the physical limitations are overwhelming. Regardless, if there ever is a request from a client to handle the superjumbo, his team would be keen to take it on.
“In the end, the cost of operation is something important for everyone, including the VIP guests that are flying. But I think I would say that the limitation of the aircraft, plus the size, is too big to consider for anything private. It makes no sense. The two floors, the size, which is really huge, it’s just too much. Unless there’s one person that is just willing to have it. You know, it happens with the boats as well. Boats are growing in size, the private boats, and they come to a point where they cannot even land anywhere,” Zanetto added.
“The trend is there. Maybe if a customer comes and asks us to operate, we would definitely be doing that, providing, as always, some limitations. Of course, in terms of aviation, it would be a fantastic, unique piece of art. I would like to see that, but as a consultant, I would not recommend it, unless you really have specific needs.”
Time is running out for the giant
Altogether, the Airbus A380 is rapidly disappearing from the skies and it’s becoming increasingly less common to spot units at airports across the globe. Several airlines were already going through retirement plans for the type before the global health crisis. However, the pandemic is significantly catalyzing the model’s phase-out across the continents
Even though the likes of Emirates will likely continue to fly the plane throughout the decade, many of its current holders are expecting the plane to remain on the ground even after the industry recovers. Production of the jet is also expected to end this year, after just 14 years since it was introduced. With such a short commercial lifespan, it would be a shame to see such a work of art go to waste
As Zanetto suggests, it won’t be a surprise to see a handful of individuals hit the skies with converted units of the A380. However, even if this happens, there will be considerable limitations. Thus, it would still be a rarity to spot the superjumbo in the decades to come