One of the practicalities faced by A380 operators has been that such a mammoth aircraft has been a difficult proposition to have close to 100 per cent occupancy rate compared to its rival Boeing 787 which has been little smaller therefore easier to get close to 100 per cent occupancy rate.
Airbus will stop production of the world’s largest passenger aircraft, the A380, in 2021. The decision follows the Dubai-based airline Emirates – the largest operator of this iconic aircraft – cutting down its orderbook for the A380 by 39 aircraft from 162 to 123. While slashing its A380 order, Emirates has ordered 40 A330-900 and 30 A350-900 aircraft, which are seen as better money spinners.
“As a consequence and given the lack of order backlog with other airlines, Airbus will cease deliveries of the A380 in 2021,” Airbus announced on February 14. However, the aircraft will be flown till “well into the 2030s”, and Airbus emphasised that the fleet will continue to be supported.
According to the Airbus spokesperson, 234 A380 ‘Superjumbos’ have been delivered so far. These are being flown by 14 airlines across the world. There are no further orders beyond the remaining 17, of which 14 are Emirates’. Singapore Airlines had received the first A380 in 2007.
Emirates, Singapore Airlines and Lufthansa fly the A380 to India. The only Indian carrier to have ordered the A380 was Kingfisher. But Kingfisher folded up before taking delivery of any of the five it had ordered.
Airbus CEO Tom Enders termed the decision “painful”. “As a result of this (Emirates’) 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,.” he said, while reassuring operators of Airbus’ full support to A-380 fleet through its life cycle.
Emirates Chairman and Chief Executive Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum said termination of the A380 production is a reality which has to be accepted. “Emirates has been a staunch supporter of the A380 since its very inception. While we are disappointed to have to give up our order, and sad that the programme could not be sustained, we accept that this is the reality of the situation. For us, the A380 is a wonderful aircraft loved by our customers and our crew. It is a differentiator for Emirates. We have shown how people can truly fly better on the A380, and Emirates has set the standards for that by introducing customer experiences that are unique to the A380 like our Shower Spas and Onboard Lounge,” he said.
“The A380 will remain a pillar of our fleet well into the 2030s, and as we have always done, Emirates will continue to invest in our onboard product and services so our customers can be assured that the Emirates A380 experience will always be topnotch,” Al Maktoum added.
Other airlines which operate the A380 include Qatar Airways, Air France, ANA, Asiana, Korean Air, Qantas, British Airways, Etihad and Thai.