Goodbye my love: Airbus to cancel A380 production

Dmitry A. Mottl

Airbus has officially confirmed the end of A380. Because of the lack of airline demand, the superjumbo production is to cease in 2021.

While the iconic passenger airliner might be admired by aviation enthusiasts, it never gained much popularity with customers (Emirates aside). Introduced to the market over a decade ago, the superjumbo generated only 313 orders as of January 31, 2019.

More recently, the news of airlines cancelling their A380 orders were much more common than somebody actually ordering the jumbo plane. Take, of instance, the last six months:

In February 2019, Qantas confirmed cancelling its order for eight superjumbos. The order was made back in the 2006, but the planes have not been  “part of the airline’s fleet and network plans for some time”.

In November 2018, Air France decided to get rid of half of its A380s fleet by not renewing their leases.

In June 2018, Singapore Airlines (SIA1) (SINGY) , the launch customer of the model, returned two superjumbos to a lessor, German investment company Dr. Peters Group. The lessor struggled to find new customers for the aircraft so much, that it decided to scrap the two A380s and sell them for parts.

But the end of series truly started to look like a possibility at the beginning of 2019, when even Emirates − the biggest customer of the model, responsible for over half (162 as of January 31, 2019) of all its sales − began doubting its beloved aircraft. In February 2019, Airbus admitted the ongoing talks with the Gulf carrier, while previous reports indicated it was looking to convert some or all of its recent order for 20 A380s into smaller and newer A350s or A330s.

Now, Airbus confirms that the Gulf carrier is indeed reducing its orderbook, but is scrapping not just the latest order of 20 aircraft. In fact, Emirates is cancelling 39 A380s,  leaving only 14 in Airbus backlog. ”As a consequence of this decision and given the lack of order backlog with other airlines, deliveries of the A380 will cease in 2021,” the manufacturer announces in a statement.

UPDATE 14-02-2019, 14:08 (UTC+2):

Besides Emirates, the only other order of A380 remains the one by ANA for 3 aircraft.

A380 was never meant for a high-volume market, Tom Enders stated during press conference on February 14, 2019. In fact, the first time the programme stopped making losses for the company and broke-even was in 2015. But since then, the question of its future rose over and over again, so stopping the production is “the right decision at right now”, Enders believes.

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