Charles, a 69-year-old retiree wearing a navy blue polo shirt emblazoned with the A330 Neo logo, left empty-handed. The inexhaustible connoisseur of aeronautics coveted for his son, an Airbus engineer, the three luminous emergency exit panels of an A380 whose parts had been auctioned since Thursday, October 13, in Toulouse. Estimated at 80 euros, these small objects passed under their noses at the price of 310 euros.
Benoît, an architect-designer in his forties, didn’t come for nothing. In his basket, four plastic trunk side covers and three fuselage trims. All for the sum of 1,800 euros. “I had a budget of 4,000 euros, and it was unthinkable that I would leave empty-handed”, warns the creator of objects, which he had prepared for this sale. In a small notebook, he had written down, in advance, in pencil, the items he wanted at affordable prices. “What interests me is the history of the object, the form and its material”it justifies itself. “But this plane or another, for me, it’s the same. »
Flashlights, electrical material in the cabin, cot, sink, electric coffee maker, sliding shelf, mini-stick captain… Five hundred pieces, most of which come from the plane’s cabin, were put up for sale under the hammer blows of auctioneer Marc Labarbe.
Installed behind the bar of the business booth – the central piece, estimated between 2,000 and 3,000 euros – he animated, like an orchestra conductor, the auction. Entering service in October 2008, this A380, an example with the number MSN13, was operated by Emirates. Withdrawn from the airline’s fleet during the Covid-19 pandemic, the aircraft was dismantled in 2021 by the Tarmac Aerosave company, an Airbus subsidiary, located near Tarbes (Hautes-Pyrénées) and later sold to Airbus.
Since October 2007, the date of entry into service of the first example of the jumbo jet to Singapore Airlines, the manufacturer has delivered 251 A380. While its production was halted for good in December 2021, this auction comes at a time when the plane is regaining interest from airlines: Lufthansa, Qatar Airways and even British Airways are gradually bringing their planes back into service.
“We wanted to allow aeronautics lovers to walk away with a piece of this device”, explains Sophie de Lacroix, an Airbus employee and project manager for this sale, the proceeds of which will be donated to the aircraft manufacturer’s foundation, which finances humanitarian operations. AIRitage, an association that acts to safeguard aeronautical heritage by storing, for example, files, photos and pilots’ licenses, will keep 30% of the total amount.
“With this sale we are recycling intelligently”welcomes Jacques Rocca, member of the AIRitage board of directors. “With the quantity we will be able to equip the interior of an A380 MSN4. This test aircraft, which landed at Le Bourget [près de Paris], in February 2017, it will be open to the public in 2024.” This is not the first time that Airbus has dismantled its planes. As early as 2007, the aircraft manufacturer had put 900 Concorde lots up for sale. This operation raised 800,000 euros.
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