Featured image: Keith Otto

50th Anniversary: Airbus' First Commercial Flight

DALLAS – On May 23, 1974, Air France (AF) operated the first flight with an Airbus A300 from Paris Orly Airport (ORY) to London Heathrow Airport (LHR).

At that time, the European manufacturer had secured only six orders, all from AF, which was under pressure from the French Government to support the new aircraft.

As aviation journalist Keith Otto states, "The omens for Airbus did not look good, Taking on the big American three of Boeing, Lockheed and Douglas."

Commemorative covers from the day. Courtesy: Keith Otto
Airbus A300, the first aircraft launched by Airbus, introduced in 1974. Photo: Mike Freer/GFDL 1.2

Initial Interest

Public interest in aviation was primarily focused on Concorde and its test flights, rather than on this new European consortium. However, Airbus has come a long way since then, with over 11,000 airframes produced and an order book stretching to 2030.

The aircraft that operated the first flight was the F-BVGA, which arrived at LHR in August 1987. Today, Airbus has a wide range of aircraft models and a strong presence in both the passenger and cargo markets.

Commemorative covers from the day. Courtesy: Keith Otto

The World's Top Aircraft Manufacturer

As of May 2024, Airbus is expected to deliver 800 commercial aircraft in 2024, more than Boeing, which has not issued a 2024 production forecast.

Airbus is the world's top commercial aircraft manufacturer based on deliveries, with an order backlog of 8,626 commercial aircraft at the end of March 2024.

In the video below, Airways dives deep into what makes the first-ever full double-decker aircraft so special. Discover the innovations brought by the Airbus Superjumbo jet to the competitive civil aviation market.

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