Airbus pulls plug on costly A380
European aerospace giant Airbus said yesterday that it would stop building its A380 superjumbo, the double-decker jet which earned plaudits from passengers but failed to win over enough airlines to justify its massive costs.
The final two double-deckers will be delivered in 2021, just 14 years after the first A380 went into service, after the Dubai-based Emirates decided to reduce its total orders by 39 planes, Airbus said.
It marks a disappointing end to a bold bet on how millions of people would travel in the future, as airlines struggled to fill a plane capable of carrying anywhere from 500 to 850 people.
"Without Emirates, Airbus has no substantial order backlog and no basis to sustain A380 production after 2021," Guillaume Faure, who is taking over as Airbus CEO from Tom Enders this spring, said in a conference call.
Airbus had at one point chalked up over 320 orders for the superjumbo, which has a list price of $446 million -- though the company often had to offer substantial discounts.
Analysts had warned that Airbus wouldn't start to recover the roughly 25 billion euros in investment and production costs unless at least 400 planes were sold, and possibly up to 600.
Airbus itself never disclosed how many planes it needed to sell to break even, a growing concern among analysts as technical problems and delivery delays piled up.
With the reduced orders from Emirates, the A380's biggest client, Airbus said its order book now stood at just 274 planes.