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Qantas Cancels Airbus A380 Orders

Qantas, the Australian carrier, has formally canceled a longstanding 2006 order for eight Airbus A380 airplanes, further adding to the future of the four-engined A380. The airline, however, declined to comment on the terms of the cancellation.

Qantas said in a statement on Thursday that it would instead upgrade the 12 A380 planes that it already had, adding that “these aircraft have not been part of the airline’s fleet and network plans for some time.”

Qantas spokesman said it would proceed with plans to refurbish the cabins starting in the middle of this year, with the jets set to remain flying with the airline “well into the future”.

An Airbus spokesman said the manufacturer had agreed to the “contract amendment” announced by Qantas. “This change will be reflected in our end January order and delivery tables,” the Airbus spokesman said.

It comes after another order long viewed as doubtful for 10 A380s from Hong Kong Airlines was removed last month from the end-December Airbus order and delivery tables following negotiations.

Other airlines including Virgin Atlantic too have ditched plans to buy the aircraft in the past year.

Emirates has also been exploring switching some orders for the superjumbo to the smaller A350.

According to an earlier report from Reuters, Airbus is looking closely at closing A380 factories sooner than expected. The European manufacturer has already said the giant plane’s days could be numbered, acknowledging a year ago that it would have to end production if Emirates, its only major customer, did not order more.

A bet that airport congestion and increased international travel would lead to demand for larger planes, the A380 was pitched as a way for airlines to transport more passengers with limited landing slots. The aircraft can carry more than 500 passengers.

Instead, the industry shifted toward using smaller airplanes, a move that favored Airbus’s main competitor, Boeing, and other makers of midsize planes that are cheaper to maintain.

In an emailed statement on Thursday, Airbus said it had “agreed to the contract amendment announced by Qantas.”

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