Airbus is ending the A380 program. The European aircraft manufacturer announced plans to scrap production of the superjumbo after its biggest customer, Emirates, and a handful of remaining buyers receive their last orders.
Following a review of its operations, and in light of developments in aircraft and engine technologies, Emirates has decided to cut down its current A380 order to 14 from 53, the delivery of which will take place over the next two years.
“As a result of this decision we have no substantial A380 backlog and hence no basis to sustain production, despite all our sales efforts with other airlines in recent years. This leads to the end of A380 deliveries in 2021,” said Airbus Chief Executive Officer Tom Enders. “The consequences of this decision are largely embedded in our 2018 full year results”.
“Today’s announcement is painful for us and the A380 communities worldwide,” added Enders. Airbus said as many as 3,500 jobs are affected by the decision.
Emirates has also decided to continue growing with Airbus’ newest generation, flexible widebody aircraft, ordering 40 A330-900 and 30 A350-900 aircraft.
The company has delivered 234 of the superjumbos to date, less than a quarter of the 1,200 it predicted it would sell when it first introduced the double-decker aircraft. Its plans were undermined by airlines shifting their interest to lighter, more fuel-efficient passenger jets that have reduced the need to ferry passengers between the big hubs.
“The A380 is not only an outstanding engineering and industrial achievement. Passengers all over the world love to fly on this great aircraft. Hence today’s announcement is painful for us and the A380 communities worldwide. But, keep in mind that A380s will still roam the skies for many years to come and Airbus will of course continue to fully support the A380 operators,” Tom Enders added.
Emirates had kept the A380 program on life support early last year by placing a big order for the aircraft. But this week, it followed other airlines like Qantas of Australia in cancelling a big chunk of its orders. Emirates is redirecting its money into buying 70 smaller passenger jets from Airbus, a mix of the manufacturer’s newest A330 and A350 models.
“The A380 is Emirates’ flagship and has contributed to the airline’s success for more than ten years. As much as we regret the airline’s position, selecting the A330neo and A350 for its future growth is a great endorsement of our very competitive widebody aircraft family,” said Guillaume Faury, President of Airbus Commercial Aircraft and future Airbus CEO. “Going forward, we are fully committed to deliver on the longstanding confidence Emirates is placing in Airbus.”
Airbus will start discussions with its social partners in the next few weeks regarding the 3,000 to 3,500 positions potentially impacted over the next three years. However, the ongoing A320 ramp-up and the new widebody order from Emirates Airline will offer a significant number of internal mobility opportunities.