Tony Avelar / AP Images for Emirates
Airbus has announced that it will stop building the A380 superjumbo aircraft after Emirates Airline, the largest customer of the aircraft, cut its order by 39 aircraft.
Airbus has "no basis for maintaining production, despite all sales efforts with other carriers in recent years," said CEO Tom Enders in a statement on Thursday, adding, "Today's announcement is painful." Airbus says it will deliver the final A380 to Emirates in 2021.
After investing billions in the A380, Europe's largest carrier hoped to overtake its biggest competitor, Boeing's 747 jet. Airbus had once positioned itself as a luxury aircraft with the amenities needed to compete with the seven wonders of the world, which it proclaimed in an advertisement. Some carriers included showers, lounges and duty-free shops, as well as bars on both decks of the A380.
After a more than anticipated launch, Airbus had difficulty selling the $ 446-million aircraft that could accommodate more than 800 passengers – the largest and most expensive commercial passenger aircraft ever built, and the first, the two full decks would have. Most airlines preferred smaller aircraft whose operation was more economical.
The Associated Press said it was sad to see the end of production of the biplane A380: "The long-haul carrier Emirates has signed a deal worth $ 21.4 billion with Airbus."
The A380 will remain a pillar of our fleet until the 2030s, "said Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, chairman and CEO, in a statement. However, in reducing its order, Emirates opted for some smaller deals from Airbus. Emirates followed the Australian company Qantas, which canceled plans to purchase eight aircraft last week, and Virgin Atlantic, which canceled their order in 2018.
At launch, Airbus predicted that it would sell 1,200 superjumbo jets, CNN reports. Instead, 234 were sold. No US airline has ever ordered one. While Emirates flies mainly international long-haul flights through its central hub in Dubai – and therefore needs an aircraft that can carry many passengers over long distances – the trend today is towards more direct flights with smaller aircraft, Business Insider explained.
Despite news of the company's decision to close its flagship A380 program, Airbus announced Thursday that its fourth-quarter results exceeded expectations. Reuters revenue jumped 11 percent to over € 23 billion, Reuters said.