PARIS – European Aerospace Giant Airbus said on Thursday it would end production of the A380 super jumbo, the double-decker jet which earned plaudits from passengers but failed to win over enough airlines to justify its massive costs.
European aerospace giant Airbus said Thursday that it would stop building its A380 super jumbo, the double-decker jet which earned plaudits from passengers but failed to win over enough airlines to justify its massive costs.
The final two double-deckers will be delivered in 2021, just 14 years after the first A380 went into service, after the Dubai-based Emirates decided to reduce its total orders by 39 planes, Airbus said.
It marks a disappointing end to a bold bet on how millions of people would travel in the future, as airlines struggled to fill a plane capable of carrying anywhere from 500 to 850 people.
“Without Emirates, Airbus has no substantial order backlog and no basis to sustain A380 production after 2021,” Guillaume Faure, who is taking over as Airbus CEO from Tom Enders this spring, said in a conference call.
Airbus had at one point chalked up over 320 orders for the super jumbo, which has a list price of $446 million — though the company often had to offer substantial discounts.
Analysts had warned that Airbus wouldn’t start to recover the roughly 25 billion euros in investment and production costs unless at least 400 planes were sold, and possibly up to 600.
Airbus itself never disclosed how many planes it needed to sell to break even, a growing concern among analysts as technical problems and delivery delays piled up.
With the reduced orders from Emirates, the A380’s biggest client, Airbus said its order book now stood at just 274 planes.
Airbus had already warned last year that the A380 program could be scrapped if no new orders came in.
It later received a lifeline when Emirates ordered 36 more A380s, but on Thursday Airbus said the airline had balked and would buy smaller A330 and A350 models instead.
After just 10 deliveries last year, Airbus will build eight this year, seven in 2020 and the final two in 2021.
“The A380 is a world-class feat of engineering, much loved by passengers, and we are obviously saddened that deliveries will come to an end,” said Chris Cholerton, head of civil aerospace at Rolls-Royce, one of the A380’s engine suppliers.
Airbus workers in Britain, where the plane’s wings are manufactured, and in France where the jet is assembled, also expressed regret over the program’s demise.