Airbus to scrap production of A380 superjumbo in 2021

Cornelia Mascio
Febbraio 14, 2019

Loved by passengers, feared by accountants, the world's largest airliner has run out of runway after Airbus chose to close A380 production after 12 years in service due to weak sales.

The costly aircraft has struggled to compete with more efficient, smaller models.

So why did the world's largest passenger aircraft, described as a "hotel in the sky", fail after just 12 years of production?

The European aerospace giant confirmed on Thursday it would deliver the final aircraft, with its two decks of cabins and room for 544 passengers, in 2021.

The move comes after Dubai-based Emirates Airline cut its A380 order by 39 planes, the state-owned carrier will instead buy 40 A330neo and 30 A350 long-haul planes. "Hence today's announcement is painful for us and the A380 communities worldwide".

Airbus chief executive Tom Enders said: 'The A380 is not only an outstanding engineering and industrial achievement.

Barely a decade after the 500-plus-seat plane started carrying passengers, Airbus said in a statement that key client Emirates is cutting back its orders for the plane, and as a result, "we have no substantial A380 backlog and hence no basis to sustain production".

The plane maker reported net profit of €3.1 billion over previous year, up from €2.4b in 2017.

Emirates is also understood to be looking at adding to the 150 Boeing 777X aircraft it has on order. The company was forced to restructure, costing thousands of jobs.

Airbus said it 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 which will include workers at Airbus Broughton where the wings are made.

Airbus makes wings for the A380 in the United Kingdom - employing 6,000 staff at Broughton and 3,000 at Filton.

The A380 is a "differentiator" for Emirates and the aircraft "will remain a pillar" of its fleet until the 2030s, he added.

When Singapore Airlines took the A380 superjumbo for its first commercial flight in 2007, there was widespread applause that the future of air travel had arrived.

There isn't a single USA carrier that uses the A380, Chinese airlines have only bought the model in low numbers, and Japan - traditionally a big buyer of the Boeing 747 - has only recently taken delivery of its first A380.

Airbus will complete the remaining orders, then the factories and their workers will either be reassigned to other programs or let go.

Airbus had warned in January that it would stop making the plane if no new orders came in.

The fate of the A380 has been in doubt since a vital order from Emirates broke down, forcing the two sides to weigh up alternatives that would trigger a premature halt to A380 production.

The twin-deck planes started flying in 2008 and seat more than 500 passengers.

Even though Airbus was aware of the threat posed by these new types of plane, they pressed ahead. Freighter versions of the 747 will be built past 2021, meaning the venerable jumbo jet will outlive the plane sent to kill it.

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