Airbus is to stop production of the A380 in 2021, following Emirates’ decision to reduce its outstanding orders for the superjumbo. There had been renewed speculation surrounding the future of the A380 in recent weeks, with Airbus releasing a statement confirming it was in discussions with Emirates “in relation to its A380 contract”. And the manufacturer has now confirmed it will “wind down production of the A380,” due to lack of airline demand.

In January 2018 Emirates signed a Memorandum of Understanding to acquire up to 36 more A380 aircraft, with deliveries starting in 2020. The deal was worth $16 billion at list prices, and was hailed at the time as a potential savior of the A380 program, with John Leahy, chief operating officer, customers, Airbus Commercial Aircraft stating that the agreement “underscores Airbus’ commitment to produce the A380 at least for another ten years.”

But Emirates has now reduced its outstanding order by 39 superjumbos, meaning that the carrier will take delivery of just 14 further A380s over the next two years.  Emirates is by far the largest operator of the A380 superjumbo, with nearly 110 of the aircraft in service, a figure that equates to nearly half of all A380s delivered to airlines so far.

Airbus has struggled to attract new orders for the double-decker superjumbo, as more fuel efficient aircraft including the A350 and 787 have come to market, along with longer-range single aisle planes such as the A321LR and 737 Max, both of which are capable of operating transatlantic services.

And last week Qantas officially canceled an outstanding order for eight A380 aircraft.  Aside from Emirates, the only other carrier with firm A380 deliveries scheduled is ANA, which has three of the superjumbos on order.

As part of the agreement with Airbus, Emirates has placed an order for 40 new A330-900 and 30 A350-900 aircraft.

In a statement Airbus Chief Executive Officer Tom Enders said: “As a result of this decision we have no substantial A380 backlog and hence no basis to sustain production, despite all our sales efforts with other airlines in recent years. This leads to the end of A380 deliveries in 2021. The consequences of this decision are largely embedded in our 2018 full year results.”

“The A380 is not only an outstanding engineering and industrial achievement. Passengers all over the world love to fly on this great aircraft. Hence today’s announcement is painful for us and the A380 communities worldwide. But, keep in mind that A380s will still roam the skies for many years to come and Airbus will of course continue to fully support the A380 operators.

“The A380 is Emirates’ flagship and has contributed to the airline’s success for more than ten years. As much as we regret the airline’s position, selecting the A330neo and A350 for its future growth is a great endorsement of our very competitive widebody aircraft family,” said Guillaume Faury, President of Airbus Commercial Aircraft and future Airbus CEO. “Going forward, we are fully committed to deliver on the longstanding confidence Emirates is placing in Airbus.”

Emirates recently celebrated a decade of A380 flights, and has flown over 12 million passengers on the superjumbo, clocking up over 80 million km.

airbus.com, emirates.com