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Emirates A380 (photo: © Thorbjørn Brunander Sund, danishaviationphoto.com)

End of the A380 as Emirates turns to smaller planes

The final delivery of an A380 is now scheduled for 2021, heralding the end of the superjumbo era.

After much speculation, the European aircraft manufacturer Airbus has taken the “painful” decision to halt deliveries of the A380 in 2021, a move prompted by Emirates confirming it was cutting its A380 orderbook from 162 to 123 of the superjumbo planes.

The Dubai-based carrier will take delivery of 14 more A380s over the next two years, and then no more.

Airbus says it has also been motivated to stop making the huge aircraft “given the lack of order backlog with other airlines”. Meanwhile, total orders at Airbus are falling.

“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,” Airbus CEO Tom Enders explained.

The aircraft type has been too weighty in recent years to compete with smaller, more efficient models. And as newer models become more efficient, carriers are increasingly offering more ‘point to point’ services at the expense of ‘hub and spoke’ models.

The manufacturer has so far delivered 234 of the A380 superjumbos out of a total orderbook of 313 – far less than the 1,200 planes it predicted it would sell when the double-decker aircraft made its very first flight in April 2005.

“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,” Enders said.

Newest generation
Emirates has now opted to “continue growing” with Airbus’ newest-generation flexible widebody aircraft, ordering 40 A330-900 and 30 A350-900 aircraft.

Guillaume Faury, president of Airbus Commercial Aircraft and, from April, the future chief executive of Airbus said: “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.”

Concerns arise over the 3,000 to 3,500 jobs at Airbus potentially impacted over the next three years. Airbus says it “will start discussions with its social partners in the next few weeks” regarding these positions.

The manufacturer promises that “the ongoing A320 ramp-up and the new widebody order from Emirates Airline will offer a significant number of internal mobility opportunities”.

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