The end for jumbo planes?

By | Category: Travel rumblings

In school I was given a half day off because a Pan-Am Boeing 747 – the Jumbo jet – was making its inaugural flight to Australia. Fifty years later no more passenger jumbos are being built. But they still fly and will do so for a few more years.

An A-380 of Etihad. Last of the jumbo jets?

Its successor was the Airbus A-380, another jumbo. But whereas over 1,500 747’s were built the number of A-380’s will probably end up at being about 250.

With the announcement from Airbus that the A-380 will cease production in the next few years, there will be no more jumbos in the future.

Airlines want smaller, twin-engine planes that are economic. Jumbos may have carried many more passengers but they had four engines, were costlier to run and airline demand for them waned.

It is claimed that passengers liked them but, personally, I wasn’t fond of either the A-380 or the 747 being too impatient to wait in the lines to board and disembark. Regardless of what we were told it seemed to take me longer to get off one of those planes than it did on smaller ones. I also didn’t like the seat configuration as too many middle seats meant apologising to others in order to get to the aisles. As a lone flyer I often ended up in the middle seats when the flights were full. The trouble is that the favoured planes now are wide-bodied and the middle seat problem will continue.

A Qantas Boeing 747 jumbo jet

Smaller aircraft like the Dreamliner and the A-350 can now fly the routes that used to be the preserve of the jumbos. Smaller planes don’t require a different design in piers at airports; the same ones that feed passengers to Boeing 737’s and A-320’s can be used. Those airports that build new piers to accommodate the A-380’s will at least see them being used for another decade unless more airlines terminate their leases on the planes.

Gradually new variants are becoming bigger with the planned Boeing 777- 9 (which it is planned to fly next year) will carry over 400 passengers. Maybe the days of the jumbo aren’t over. The planes just won’t look so impressive!

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