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(CNN) — Beloved by passengers for its spaciousness and comfort, but disliked by airlines because of its running costs, the Airbus A380 has already entered its sunset years, even though it debuted commercially just 14 years ago.
The superjumbo was conceived at a time when larger planes carrying hundreds of passengers between hubs were an attractive proposition, but by the time it started flying, a different business model — smaller planes connecting smaller airports — had taken over in the aviation industry.
Now several airlines — including Emirates, British Airways and Singapore — are offering long-haul flights on the superjumbo again.
Whether you plan to catch a flight on an A380 while you still have the chance or not, here’s our pick of the 20 most interesting facts about this unique aircraft.
Wired for flight: Each A380 has more than 300 miles of cabling.
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Blank canvas: It takes a lot of paint to decorate an A380.
Etienne De Malglaive/Getty Images
It takes 950 gallons of paint to cover the entire 38,000-square-feet surface of an A380. A regular layer of paint adds 1,400 lbs of weight to the plane. The process usually takes about two weeks.
The cargo hold of an A380 can carry up to 3,000 suitcases, and two loading belts — one at the front and one at the back — can be used simultaneously to speed up the process.
Each A380 is made of 4 million individual components, produced by 1,500 companies from 30 different countries. They all used to converge via road, air and sea to Toulouse, in the south of France, where the final aircraft was assembled.
Splashy feature: The A380 has room for showers.
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With its full-length double deck, the A380 offers almost 6,000 square feet of usable floor space, about 40% more than the second largest airliner, the Boeing 747-8.
Drink it in: Emirates has been selling off the bar from a retired A380.
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Snug fit: Munich’s A380 adaptations.
Courtesy Munich Airport
Emirates operates the A380’s longest scheduled passenger flight: Dubai to Auckland, 8,800 miles and over 17 hours in the air. In 2019, Qantas flew one of its A380s back to base in Sydney from Dresden, Germany, after refurbishment. The plane was empty and flew for over 18 hours and about 10,000 miles.
Cargo-only: The A380’s canceled freight version.
When Airbus launched the A380 in December 2000, it offered a cargo version called A380F, designed to compete with the equivalent cargo-only models of the Boeing 747. UPS and FedEx both initially placed orders for the plane, but after its release was delayed they canceled them, leading to the cancellation of the A380F program itself.
Thirsty workers: The A380 has four jet engines.
Frank Rumpenhorst/DPA/AFP/Getty Images
The plane’s four engines are both one of its most distinctive factors and a drawback, as they require more fuel than twin-engined jets. They are made by either Rolls-Royce in the UK or Engine Alliance in the United States, and can lift the airplane’s maximum takeoff weight of 650 tonnes to cruising altitude in 15 minutes.
One of the main reasons why the A380 was never a commercial success is the fact that not a single US airline ever bought the plane. Major European carriers such as Air France, British Airways and Lufthansa did, but in small numbers. By the time the A380 was available, US carriers had already moved away from jumbo planes and towards more fuel-efficient, twin-engined aircraft such as the Boeing 787 and the Airbus A350.
Lufthansa has decided to retire its A380 fleet.
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