Singaporeans were treated to a remarkable sight last week - two giant Airbus A380 superjumbos travelling down a public road.
The two Singapore Airlines jets were towed from Singapore's Changi Airport along about two kilometres of road to the Changi Exhibition Centre, where they are set to be scrapped.
The operation, which began at 11pm on Monday, October 4, took six hours and also moved a Boeing 777.
It's the first time Singapore Airlines has scrapped A380 jets in its home country. Previously it had sent its retired superjumbos to aircraft storage "boneyards" including the very first A380 to enter service, which was sent to Tarmac Aerosave in the French Pyrenees in 2017. It was broken up in late 2019 for parts, including turning some of its fuselage into luggage tags.
The two A380s at Changi Exhibition Centre are registered 9V-SKH and 9V-SKG - both entered service in 2009. They are visible from the road, so keen planespotters will be able to watch as the planes are gradually pulled apart.
Singapore-based Channel News Asia showed the A380s being slowly towed along the roads.
Singapore Airlines was the launch customer for the biggest passenger jet ever built, which flew its first commercial service from Singapore to Sydney in October 2007. It arrived on the aviation scene with great fanfare - aside from its immense size and capacity to carry 471 passengers, it also featured innovations such as the world's first private suites on board, including the ability to create a double bed for first class passengers.
However, the giant plane quickly fell from grace as the smaller and more economical Boeing Dreamliner and its Airbus rival, the A350, were launched offering huge reductions in operating costs by requiring less fuel.
Facing a lack of future interest in the plane, Airbus scrapped production of the A380 with the last superjumbo rolling off the assembly line earlier this year. It will be delivered to Emirates, the largest customer for the aircraft, in November.
The outbreak of COVID-19 and the subsequent drop in global air travel exacerbated the decline of the aircraft, with many airlines bringing forward the retirement of some, if not all, of their A380 fleets.
Singapore Airlines had 19 A380s in its fleet at the start of the pandemic, but grounded the planes in March last year. Twelve were parked at Changi while a further seven were sent to a desert storage facility in Alice Springs.
The airline has since announced that seven of the planes will be retired.
Karl Schubert, Singapore Airlines's regional manager of public affairs and government relations spokesman, said the SIA Engineering Company would scrap the aircraft for parts in an operation that would take about two months. Usable parts would be kept as spares for the remaining A380 fleet.
"Suitable aircraft parts and materials, such as parts of the aircraft fuselage (including skin), cabin windows, overhead compartments, aircraft seats, life vests, soft furnishings and linens, and galley equipment such as carts and racks, will be repurposed for The Upcycling Project's Initiatives," he said.
The Upcycling Project provides materials to Singapore-based organisations and global retail brands to create artworks or items for purchase such as bags, furniture, fashion apparel and accessories.