Airbus to stop making A380 ‘superjumbo’ aircraft after disappointing sales, putting 3,500 jobs at risk

The last A380 aircraft will be delivered in 2021

Simon Calder
Travel Correspondent
Thursday 14 February 2019 06:56 GMT
Pilot films A380 take-off from Heathrow

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Airbus has announced it will end production of the world’s biggest passenger plane, the A380 “Superjumbo” model, by 2021.

The admission of long-term failure comes after Emirates, the largest customer of the A380, reduced its order from 162 to 123 aircraft.

The double-decker plane is beloved by passengers but has proved an abject commercial failure.

More than half of the entire production planes ordered are for Emirates. The Dubai-based airline has opted to take smaller A330 and A350 jets instead.

Emirates said it had struck a reduced deal worth $21.4bn (£18.9bn) with Airbus that will see it take on another 14 new A380s in the next two years, and that the airline was “sad” to see the model discontinued.

The Airbus chief executive, 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.”

Mr Enders, who is set to retire in two months, said: “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.”

Airbus A380s will continue in operation for a wide range of airlines, including British Airways, for years to come. The planemaker has vowed to continue to provide technical support for the model.

A year ago Airbus said the future of the plane had been secured for the next decade, though the rate of production would fall to one every two months. But since then the secondhand value of the aircraft has come into question, with two of the first Singapore Airlines planes to fly being broken up for parts after just 10 years in service.

The Airbus A380 first flew commercially for Singapore Airlines in 2007, and has been bought by a dozen other airlines including British Airways, Air France, Lufthansa and Qantas.

The jet has proved extremely popular with passengers, with a special website allowing travellers to pick routes and airlines that will allow them to fly on the Superjumbo.

But the A380 has never flown many important business routes, including the premier intercontinental link between London and New York, on a sustained basis.

Up to 3,500 jobs will be affected, including hundreds in the UK at the Airbus factory in Broughton, north Wales, and at the Rolls-Royce plane engine factory in Derby.

Airbus reported healthy profits in its 2018 full-year results.

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