Airbus to scrap A380 superjumbo production as sales slump

Airbus Chief Executive Tom Enders waits to visit final assembly line at Airbus headquarters in Blagnac near Toulouse France

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.

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

"With enough room to install stylish first-class suites, eye-catching bar or business areas, beautifully inviting cabin lighting and the quietest cabin in the sky, you will enjoy every aspect of the flight", Airbus' website said.

The decision is a boon for rival Boeing and a crushing blow for Airbus.

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.

Airbus said on Thursday the last A380 would be delivered in 2021. "For us, the A380 is a wonderful aircraft loved by our customers and our crew". Hence today's announcement is painful for us and the A380 communities worldwide.

The European aerospace company said this morning that lacklustre sales of the aircraft had led to the "painful" decision.

Airbus is nearing a decision to axe production of the world's largest airliner amid a downward revision in demand from the Gulf, and is likely to give an update with its full-year earnings on February 14, according to industry sources and analysts.

Airbus said it would enter talks with unions in coming weeks over the 3,000-3,500 jobs potentially affected. Those prompted a company restructuring that cost thousands of jobs.

"However, the ongoing A320 ramp-up and the new widebody order from Emirates Airline will offer a significant number of internal mobility opportunities", Airbus said.

But in the end, it wasn't passenger support, but the lack thereof from airlines that hastened the A380's demise.

Ironically, the double-decker planes are popular with passengers, but airlines have come to view them as inefficient. Rolls-Royce also produces engines for the aircraft.

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

When Airbus's A380 first took off it was hailed as a technological marvel that would meet airlines' needs for a new large aircraft to connect the world's crowded airport hubs - London, New York, Dubai, Tokyo. Finally, a restless Airbus board started demanding a return and stronger prices just when the plane desperately needed an aggressive relaunch and fresh investment, insiders said. After today's decision to end production, the end tally will be just over 250. But ironically it was also Emirates that contributed to the A380's decline and fall.

The Toulouse-based plane manufacturer and Emirates reached an agreement on the airline's outstanding A380 deliveries with the carrier receiving 14 more doubledecker jets from 2019 through to the end of 2021.



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