For many decades Boeing grazed the market of widebodied jets on its own- with very much profit. As Airbus thinks that there'll be still a great potential for this jets in the future, the Large Aircraft Devision was founded in 1996 to develop a giga-plane. This aircraft should carry up to 1000 passengers and should have higher range than the 747, while the seat costs per mile should be below the 747. A difficult task, but Airbus didn't give up and presented the A3XX in 1997. 1998 the concrete model was presented and in June 2000 the Airbus managers finally agreed to build the A380.
You have to pay much tribute to the Airbus constructers, if you think about what they've created. The A380 is the largest civil aircraft of the world, but as the passengers are situated on two through decks, it's only two metres longer than a Boeing 747. The flight deck is located between both decks and can be entered via stairs. Behind the flight deck there are rest rooms for the crew. The A380 has higher range than the Jumbo Jet, however 10-20% less seat costs per flown miles. Despite of its immense tallness it only needs the same runway length than a 747, and even suits (but only very narrowly) to its gates.
The standard version is the A380-800 (100) with 555 seats in a three-class-configuration. Also possible are a stretched A380-900 and shortened A380-700 in the distant future. The freighther version of the A380 has already been ordered, though. The engines which will be available are Rolls-Royce Trent 900, as well as Engine Alliance (cooperation of General Electric and Pratt&Whitney) GP7000.
When the name A380 was finally decided in December 2000, over 50 airliners of the new top model had already been ordered. Although many (even Boeing) hadn't predicted a big market for such a widebody, as the airlines would prefer higher frequencies and direct routes with smaller aircrafts. But especially the Asiatic airlines with much customers are interested in the A380. As a result of this, Boeing created the 747X - and cancelled it after no airline had ordered this model.
The name A380 was chosen, as A350 is too close to the A340, A360 sounds like a 360° turn = no progress, A370 is similar to Boeings 7x7 family and 8 is a lucky number in Asia. As a result of this, even the standard version was renamed from -100 to -800.
On January 18th 2005, the Mega-Airbus was presented to the public in a spectacular show event with numerous guests out of the business and politics field. At this point, Airbus had already received more than 150 orders for the A380. According to Airbus, only 100 more sales are needed to bring the project into the profit zone. Launching customer Singapore Airlines receives its first A380 in 2006. More than 30,000 spectators came to watch the first flight on April 27th 2005 in Toulouse.