Airbus pulls plug on costly A380 superjumbo - statement

14 Février, 2019, 10:10 | Auteur: Auguste Feret
  • Airbus Chief Executive Tom Enders waits to visit final assembly line at Airbus headquarters in Blagnac near Toulouse France

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

In a statement on Thursday, Airbus said Emirates would reduce its A380 order book from 162 to 123 aircraft. But while the aircraft is considered a passenger favourite for many - the same can not be said for airline executives who are focused on the financial performance of each route.

Under the proposed reshuffle, first reported by Reuters, Airbus hopes to broker a deal that would see Emirates switch part of its order to smaller models like the A350 or A330, while eking out a few last-minute A380 orders from British Airways.

Now in early 2019 - the A380 is increasingly perceived as "inefficient", especially as lighter, more fuel-efficient aircraft such as the A350 XWB secure their place in the air travel market.

The aerospace giant said the impact of the decision was "largely embedded" in the firm's 2018 results, which showed a net profit for 2018 of €3bn (£2.6bn) up almost 30% from the previous year. Guillaume Faury, president of Airbus Commercial Aircraft and future Airbus CEO, said, "The A380 is Emirates' flagship and has contributed to the airline's success for more than 10 years".

Airbus said it would enter talks with unions in coming weeks over the 3,000-3,500 jobs potentially affected.

It's also sad news for Emirates, which had the A380 as the backbone of its fleet, based out of Dubai, the world's busiest airport for global travel.

The company did not specify which jobs or locations would be affected.

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"The ongoing A320 ramp-up and the new widebody order from Emirates Airline will offer a significant number of internal mobility opportunities", the European manufacturer said in a statement.

Demand for the A380 from airlines ultimately dried up as the industry shifted away from larger planes in favour of smaller, wide-body jets.

Where did Airbus go wrong?

There isn't a single U.S. 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 had warned in January that it would stop making the plane if no new orders came in.

Currently, Qatar Airways operates the A350-900 on just one Australian route, Adelaide - but launching flights to Sydney and Melbourne operated by the A350-1000 requires Airbus to certify the jet for a heavier take-off weight than it's currently certified for today.

In hindsight, airlines were already turning their back on very large aircraft when the A380 made its debut. Once the pinnacle of aviation engineering, these massive jets are now viewed as old fashioned and inefficient, leading multiple carriers to cancel orders in favor of newer, more efficient alternatives. The A380 succeeded in that - the last passenger 747 was built two years ago - but Boeing will have a kind of last laugh. 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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