The super-jumbo A380 was supposed to become a symbol for Airbus's superiority and Boeing's decline. But it hasn't turned out that way. Instead, the prestige project could turn in to a symbol for the Europeans' aerospace downfall.That was January 18, 2005, a date almost everyone expected to go down in the history books in European aviation. With its €11 billion A380 project, Airbus planned to finally out-fly American competitor Boeing, long the leading force in this high-tech industry. Even at its unveiling, the A380 was more than just an airplane. It was also a symbol of what was to become Old Europe's victory over the United States.
It was beautiful - in an almost otherworldly way. Fairies and elves hovered above the trees as wisps of fog rose into the air. Everything was bathed in shimmering blue light. The 5,000 invited guests, the crème de la crème of the European business, political and cultural worlds were enchanted as they watched the world's largest passenger aircraft, the A380, being unveiled in the southwestern French city of Toulouse.
It was such a momentous event that the guest list even included four European heads of state. One of them, then German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, seemed practically airborne himself when he said: "Perhaps we have reached for the stars, but when it comes to aviation, we have a significant number of them in our hands today."
Now, writes Spiegel, the fog has dissipated, the fairies have flown away (to join the Conservative Party?) and the world's largest passenger aircraft … has become a symbol. But not the one Europeans had been hoping for. Instead, the A380 has become emblematic of the European aviation industry's most severe economic crisis ever.
Couldn't have put it better ourselves. Now, what was that about hubris?