Aerospace News, February 2019

Airbus announced that it is ceasing production on its A380 jumbo aircraft 12 years after production started.  The aerospace manufacturer cited a “lack of airline demand” as the reason production of the A380 would end.

Dubai’s Emirates airline, the largest A380 customer, is reducing its A380 order book from 162 to 123 aircraft. Emirates will take delivery of 14 further A380s 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 CEO Tom Enders.

The A380 was a challenger to US rival Boeing’s dominance of the large aircraft market. The announcement of the end of the A380, the world’s first fully double-deck passenger jet, comes at the same time that Boeing’s 747 ‘jumbo jet’ turns 50.

Airbus decided to scale up the size of their aircraft with the A380, it featured over 500sq metres of usable floor space, two full-length decks with wide body dimensions, on-board spas and bars. At the same time, Boeing developed its smaller and nimbler 787 Dreamliner.

According to Boeing, the 787 Dreamliner is the fastest-selling wide body jet in history and it allows airlines to reduce fuel use and emissions by 20-25%. The combination of its fuel efficiency and ability to serve far-away destinations has helped airlines save over £30bn of fuel and open more than 210 non-stop routes.

Orders for the A380 could have slowed because the aircraft is too large, making it unprofitable when too many seats go unfilled.

“I’ve been very clear with Airbus that if they want to sell the aircraft, they’re going to have to be very aggressive on the price,” commented Willie Walsh, CEO of International Airlines Group.  Despite it not being a cost-effective option, HH Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, chairman and chief executive of Emirates Airline and Group, said that the aircraft has been “loved by our customers and our crew. It is a differentiator for Emirates.”

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