Airbus today confirmed they will be ending production of the A380, with last deliveries set to take place in 2021.
The decision comes as Emirates announce they are to reduce their order of 39 A380s to just 14, and instead order 30 A350-900s and 40 A330neos.
"As a result of this 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," said Airbus chief executive Tom Enders.
The decision means that only 250 A380s will have been produced - significantly short of the Airbus demand estimate of 1,500 aircraft.
A very sad day, but one that had become increasingly likely over the past couple of years with no new orders and fuel prices creeping up again. It's likely to signal the end of the large "jumbo" jet as we know it.
The A380 is very popular with passengers. I flew up to London yesterday on one and was reminded how quiet it is inside and how smooth the flight generally was. Unfortunately is a very expensive aircraft for the airlines - not just the purchase price but four, thirsty engines, large numbers of seats to fill meaning a lower average fare, and little cargo capacity. Other than on very high density routes, it really is difficult to operate profitably.
The 777, and subsequently the 787 and A350, have contributed to the end of the very large aircraft as they can operate thinner, longer routes more profitably, shifting business away from the "trunk" routes.
It really is a great aircraft, and it will be a real shame to see it go, but I think it will be around for a while yet. There's simply no alternative for BA - with Heathrow being slot controlled, the A380 is ideal for them, so they'll be looking to keep them in service as long as they can - just look at the 747 fleet as an example. Emirates will probably look to do the same too.
I wonder how the operating economics compare to the A350? Generally speaking, the larger the aircraft, the lower the cost per seat. Even with 4 engines, the large number of seats should offset this somewhat. However, as you say, this only works if you can fill the thing, and there are only a few routes that can do this consistently year round.
However, air travel continues to grow each year, and more and more airports are starting to get congested. I cant help but wonder if the A380 is going to end up like the 757 - really starting to find its niche after production has ended.
I don't know the costs but am sure the A350 and B787 operate more profitably. They carry typically more than half an A380 load, with half the engines and inevitably at a higher fare per person because they can take the first 250 people booking at decent fares without having to discount to fill the second 250 seats. also they have better cargo capacity to top up with more revenue.
Of course the A380 was designed to carry up to 800 passengers but all airlines have opted for mixed class, spacious premium cabins, bars and lounges (Air France has five bars, according to the seat map). I'm intrigued that nobody has gone for the 800 seats on an all-economy, high density route. When the 747 came out, the SR variant was developed for the Japan domestic market while that is now operated by smaller 787, 767 and 737 aircraft. Are there no routes that could use a high density A380?
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