Airbus is nearing a decision to axe production of its A380 superjumbo jet as talks with Emirates over new orders founder
- Plane manufacturer Airbus is set to give an update with its full-year earnings
- Analysts say the firm will have to provide clarity on the future of the superjumbo
- Sales of the aircraft, which has been in service for 12 years, have weakened
Jennifer Newton for MailOnline
Airbus is nearing a decision to axe production of the world’s largest airliner and may give an update with full-year earnings tomorrow, aviation analysts have said.
The fate of the A380 superjumbo has been in doubt since a vital order from Emirates foundered over inconclusive engine talks, forcing Airbus and the airline to weigh an alternative plan that would trigger a premature halt to A380 production.
Under the proposed reshuffle, first reported by Reuters, Airbus hopes to broker a deal that would see Emirates switch part of its order to smaller models like the A350 or A330, while eking out a few last-minute A380 orders from British Airways.
Sources say that Airbus is nearing a decision to axe production of the world’s largest airliner, the A380. Pictured is an Emirates A380
The timing of any final announcement may be driven by the outcome of those talks, but Airbus will be under pressure to provide some clarity on its plans in time for Thursday’s earnings following mounting speculation over the plane’s future.
Agency Partners analyst Sash Tusa, who predicted last week that a decision to shut the loss-making programme may be imminent, said: ‘The A380 is the elephant in the hangar; it will be impossible to avoid saying something on the subject.’
The A380 is already on life support due to weak sales.
Barring a surprise breakthrough in stalled engine talks between Emirates and Rolls-Royce, the A380’s French and German factories are unlikely to survive beyond 2020, analysts say.
Any decision to pull the plug on the iconic European double-decker after just 12 years in service must be approved by the Airbus board, which meets on Wednesday.
Airbus declined to comment ahead of Thursday’s earnings.
Last week it was revealed that Qantas had formally cancelled a longstanding order for eight Airbus A380s
Last week, it was revealed that Qantas had formally cancelled a longstanding order for eight Airbus A380s.
A Qantas spokesman said the airline had formalised its decision to cancel the order, which was made in 2006, following discussions with Airbus.
The Australian carrier has 12 A380s in its fleet and the spokesman added it would proceed with plans to refurbish the cabins starting in the middle of this year, with the jets set to remain flying with the airline ‘well into the future’.
The A380 has a list price of $445.6 million (£344 million), but airlines typically receive significant discounts from manufacturers.
Launched a decade ago, the double-decker plane was hailed as a revolution for the industry and a challenge to Boeing’s stranglehold on the super-large-aircraft market.
But the superjumbo has struggled to win orders, leading it to ramp down production.
Analysts point to customers demanding flights directly to their destination rather than following Airbus’s model of taking a long haul journey from hub-to-hub followed by a short hop on a smaller plane.