Airbus to stop making struggling A380 superjumbo in 2021

Kenny Grant
February 14, 2019

The world's second-largest planemaker behind U.S. rival Boeing said it would reach a targeted monthly production rate of 60 narrow-body A320-family jets a month by mid-year and would increase this to 63 a month in 2021.

Airbus said on Thursday the last A380 would be delivered in 2021.

Airbus makes wings for the A380 in the United Kingdom - employing 6,000 staff at Broughton and 3,000 at Filton. Emirates said separately it would purchase 70 smaller A330neo and A350 wide bodies listed at US$21.4-billion before customary discounts. Hence today's announcement is painful for us and the A380 communities worldwide.

A decision the planemaker says could substantially affect 3,500 jobs within the company. 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".

On Thursday, the firm said Emirates had chosen to reduce its order of A380s from 162 to 123 aircraft following a "review of its operations, and in light of developments in aircraft and engine technologies".

"Passengers all over the world love to fly on this great aircraft". Getting the A380 airborne for its maiden flight was severely delayed by wiring glitches that resulted from faulty communications between design teams.

The giant aircraft's first commercial flight to Europe - a Singapore Airlines service - arrived at Heathrow on March 3 2008.

Sensing a change in direction, both Airbus and Boeing started to develop large aircraft that had a focus on fuel efficiency and range. While Airbus was a major force in the single-aisle space with its A320 family, the prestigious long-distance and ultra-large aircraft segment remained the domain of its U.S. rival.

Airbus had faced scepticism over the A380's future since the 1990s, when it began to envision a competitor to the hugely popular 747 from USA archrival Boeing.

The shake-up came after Emirates - the largest A380 customer - chose to reduce its orders for the iconic superjumbo and order a total of 70 of the smaller A350 and A330neo instead.

In January 2018 Emirates signed a Memorandum of Understanding to acquire up to 36 more A380 aircraft, with deliveries starting in 2020.

Besides the fourteen outstanding units for Emirates, Airbus is also nearing the delivery of three A380s for ANA - All Nippon Airways.

Emirates' decision means Airbus has "no substantial A380 backlog and hence no basis to sustain production, despite all our sales efforts with other airlines in recent years", Airbus Chief Executive Officer Tom Enders was quoted in the statement as saying.

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The A380 project was originally known as the A3XX.

Production of the jets dominates Airbus profits.

But over the past two decades, a new breed of aircraft gained popularity, making life harder for the A380 and the Boeing 747, which has also struggled with the latest passenger version of its iconic hump-backed plane.

The A380, whose wings are made at Airbus UK, was a bold challenger to United States rival Boeing's dominance of the large aircraft market.

"The A380 is Emirates' flagship and has contributed to the airline's success for more than ten years".

Markets where Airbus had hoped to sell its prestige plane hardly caught on or didn't materialise at all.

"This leads to the end of A380 deliveries in 2021".

In February 2019, Qantas confirmed cancelling its order for eight superjumbos.

What was the problem with the A380?

The Dubai-based Emirates airline is the biggest A380 customer and built its global brand around the model.

Airbus incurred €463 million in charges for scrapping the production of the A380. And many operators don't even use the model at full capacity. The last of the 500-plus-seat double-deck jet airliner will be delivered in 2021.

The A380 has flown more than half-a-million flights and carried more than 190 million passengers, with more than 300 commercial flights a day.

Why is A380 production ending?

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