In Pics: Airbus abandons iconic A380 superjumbo, to stop production in 2021
European plane maker Airbus said Thursday it will stop making its superjumbo A380 in 2021 for lack of customers, abandoning the world's biggest passenger jet and one of the aviation industry's most ambitious and most troubled endeavors.
European plane maker Airbus said Thursday it will stop making its superjumbo A380 in 2021 for lack of customers, abandoning the world's biggest passenger jet and one of the aviation industry's most ambitious and most troubled endeavors. Barely a decade after the double-deck, 500-plus-seat plane started carrying passengers, Airbus said that key client Emirates is cutting back its orders, and as a result, "we have no substantial A380 backlog and hence no basis to sustain production." The decision could affect up to 3,500 jobs and already cost plane maker 463 million euros (about $523 million) in losses in 2018, Airbus said.
The company, a European economic powerhouse, is also girding for serious disruption to its cross-continental manufacturing from a likely chaotic British exit from the EU next month. CEO Tom Enders, however, said Thursday that "We are getting signals that make me a little more optimistic that we'll see a more orderly Brexit." He wouldn't elaborate. The end of the young yet iconic jet is a boon for rival Boeing and an embarrassing symbolic blow for Airbus. A pall of mourning hung in the atmosphere Thursday at its headquarters in the southern French city of Toulouse but there was also a hint of relief after years of straining to keep the A380 alive. Image source: Reuters
"It's a painful decision for us," Enders said. "We've invested a lot of effort, a lot of resources, a lot of sweat ... But we need to be realistic." It's also sad news for Emirates, which has the A380 as the backbone of its fleet, based out of Dubai, the world's busiest airport for international travel. Image source: Reuters
When it started taking on passengers in 2008, the A380 was hailed for its roominess, large windows, high ceilings and quieter engines. Some carriers put in showers, lounges, duty-free shops and bars on both decks. Airbus had hoped the A380 would squeeze out Boeing's 747 and revolutionize air travel as more people take to the skies. Image source: Reuters
Instead, airlines have been cautious about committing to the costly plane, so huge that airports had to build new runways and modify terminals to accommodate it. The double-decker planes started flying in 2008. The A380 had troubles from the start, including tensions between Airbus' French and German management and protracted production delays and cost overruns. Those prompted a company restructuring that cost thousands of jobs. Image source: Reuters
Airbus said it forecasts similar profits in 2019, in line with growth in the world economy and air traffic. It promised airlines that it would still maintain the more than 230 A380s currently in flight, with Faury calling it a "benchmark" for the company even as its death is being programmed. Image source: Reuters