Airbus, the maker of the largest passenger plane in the world, says the production line for the A380 will be shut down — unless a new order comes in soon.
In a remarkable admission, the planemaker’s chief salesman said: “If we can’t work out a deal with Emirates, then I think there is no choice but to shut down the programme.”
John Leahy, the Airbus chief operating officer — customers, was speaking during an in-house webinar reviewing aircraft orders and deliveries in 2017.
The A380 “SuperJumbo” entered service in 2007, but has always struggled to attract orders. Only 222 have been delivered, and while Airbus insists a further 95 are on order, many of these are expected to be cancelled — including one for six jets from Virgin Atlantic.
In 2017, Airbus won no new orders for the A380. Indeed, the firm’s spreadsheet shows that the order book moved into negative territory with two cancellations.
Airbus will deliver just a dozen A380s in 2018, with eight scheduled for 2019.
Speaking in the same investor event, the firm’s chief executive, Fabrice Bregier, said: “We came to the conclusion we needed a minimum of six aircraft a year to maintain industrially an efficient production line.
“This is a challenge that I believe can be met.”
But Mr Leahy admitted the Dubai airline is regarded as the only hope, saying: “We are still talking to Emirates but quite honestly they are the only one that has the ability in the marketplace to take a minimum of six a year for a period of eight to 10 years.”
Emirates is by far the biggest operator of A380s. It has 96 of the jets, and flies them from its hub in Dubai to 45 destinations — including Gatwick, Heathrow, Birmingham and Manchester.
The airline has held out the prospect of ordering more A380s, but is seeking guarantees that the production line will remain open.
Join our new commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies