- Airbus may shut down the A380 superjumbo program without an additional order from Emirates.
- However, Airbus failed to secure an Emirates order in November because the airplane maker couldn’t commit to the A380.
- Airbus needs at least one major order to keep its A380 production slots filled for the next decade.
Rumors of the A380’s demise have been swirling since Airbus failed to secure a highly-anticipated order for the plane from Emirates at the Dubai Air Show in November.
The Emirates order was supposed to end the A380 pr0gram’s prolonged sales drought in which Airbus has not been able to land a major airline order for the superjumbo since Emirates’ last order in 2013.
Emirates isn’t just the A380’s largest customer, at this point, Emirates is the A380’s only customer of consequence. It’s the only airline with enough demand for the A380 to keep the plane’s production lines moving for the next decade or so at a rate of six planes a year.
It’s something Airbus knows all too well.
Airbus sales’ outgoing sales chief, John Leahy indicated that without additional orders from the Emirates, the possibility of the company shuttering its most high-profile program is very real.
However, the big hangup that prevented Airbus from closing the deal in November wasn’t Emirates’ lack of interest in the plane. Instead, it was Airbus’ unwillingness to commit to the A380 program in the long run.
Emirates has openly stated that the airline would like to order more A380s.
“So they may be making some internal decisions as to what they may or may not do, I’m not a party to those, but the view is that at Emirates, we’d like to see some more in the fleet,” Emirates Airline president Sir Tim Clark told Business Insider.
“I don’t know if they’ve given up (on the A380),” Clark added. “It’s a work in progress and we’re trying to get them across the line.”
Of the 317 orders Airbus has for the plane, 142 have come from the Emirates. Over the years, Emirates has also supplied Airbus with the engineering, design, and maintenance input that helped streamline the A380 program.
Even without additional orders, Airbus has 95 outstanding orders for the A380, 42 of which belong to Emirates.
“We have 101 (A380s in the fleet) at the moment and we have 41 on order,” the Emirates boss said. “So they’ve still got to produce these airplanes. It’s all very well to say they are going to end the program but 41 aircraft is quite a lot of that type.”
“We certainly believe there’s a future for it,” Clark said. “It’s very useful for us, it’s our flagship, it has great internal product, it has a huge following, and we’ve just introduced new enclosed suites on our Boeing 777s and we’ll do the same on the A380.”
At this point, Emirates wants to buy more A380s and Airbus wants Emirates to buy more of the planes. And yet Emirates doesn’t have the planes it wants and Airbus doesn’t have the orders it needs.