Airbus to axe A380 programme after Emirates order rejig

Aviation

Airbus is to close its A380 programme, stopping deliveries in 2021, ending an ambitious and expensive bid to challenge Boeing’s 50-year dominance in the high-capacity airliner market.

The decision follows a revised agreement with primary customer Emirates, which is to cut its order total from 162 to 123 aircraft – leaving just 14 to be handed over to the Dubai-based carrier.

“As a consequence and given the lack of order backlog with other airlines, Airbus will cease deliveries of the A380 in 2021,” says the airframer.

Emirates will, however, replace the A380 orders with 70 twinjets, comprising 40 A330-900s and 30 A350-900s.

Airbus’s decision comes less than a year after its then-sales chief, John Leahy, admitted that the A380 line could face closure if a deal with Emirates fell through.

Singapore Airlines received the first A380 in 2007, and is one of 12 operators to have already received all of the A380s for which they placed orders.

But Singapore Airlines also highlighted the dearth of interest in the type when it withdrew some of its early A380s from service, which then struggled to find a buyer – eventually being allocated to part-out.

The A380 had secured 313 total orders by the end of January this year, of which 234 had been delivered.

Emirates accounted for 162 of the overall orders and had received 109 of them. It accounted for 53 of the 79 A380s remaining on Airbus’s firm backlog.

Japanese carrier All Nippon Airways has been due to take three of the other 26 outstanding jets, the first of which has been newly painted.

But there is no sign that the remaining 23 aircraft – comprising 20 intended for lessor Amedeo and three for the entity Air Accord – are ever likely to be built.

Twelve other operators of the A380 have already received all of the aircraft for which they placed orders.

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