Airbus announced today that it will end production of its superjumbo A380 following a reduction in orders for the aircraft, as main customer Emirates scaled back its A380 requirement in favour of smaller jets.
Copyright Airbus / Photo S. Ramadier
After a review of its operations and in light of developments in aircraft and engine technologies, Emirates is reducing its A380 orderbook from 162 to 123 aircraft. Emirates will take delivery of 14 further A380s over the next two years. As a consequence and given the lack of order backlog with other airlines, Airbus will cease deliveries of the A380 in 2021.
“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 Officer Tom Enders. “The consequences of this decision are largely embedded in our 2018 full year results.
“The A380 is not only an outstanding engineering and industrial achievement. Passengers all over the world love to fly on this great aircraft. Hence today’s announcement is painful for us and the A380 communities worldwide. But, keep in mind that A380s will still roam the skies for many years to come and Airbus will of course continue to fully support the A380 operators.”
Emirates confirmed that in a heads of agreement signed with Airbus, it has ordered 40 A330-900 and 30 A350-900 aircraft, worth US$ 21.4 billion at list prices, with the A330neo and A350 aircraft being delivered to Emirates starting from 2021 and 2024 respectively. In addition, Airbus and Emirates reached an agreement on outstanding A380 deliveries. The airline will receive 14 more A380s from 2019 until the end of 2021, taking its total A380 order book to 123 units.
“The A380 is Emirates’ flagship and has contributed to the airline’s success for more than 10 years. As much as we regret the airline’s position, selecting the A330neo and A350 for its future growth is a great endorsement of our very competitive widebody aircraft family,” said Guillaume Faury, President of Airbus Commercial Aircraft and future Airbus CEO. “Going forward, we are fully committed to deliver on the longstanding confidence Emirates is placing in Airbus.”
Airbus will start discussions with its social partners in the next few weeks regarding the 3,000 to 3,500 positions potentially impacted over the next three years. However, the ongoing A320 ramp-up and the new widebody order from Emirates Airline will offer a significant number of internal mobility opportunities.
Commenting on the agreement on A380 deliveries, His Highness Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman and Chief Executive, Emirates Airline and Group, said: “After many months of discussions, we have come to an agreement with Airbus and Rolls-Royce.
“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.
"The A380 will remain a pillar of our fleet well into the 2030s."
On the decision to purchase A330Neos and A350s, HH Sheikh Ahmed said: “Emirates’ fleet strategy to operate a young, modern, and efficient all-wide body fleet remains unchanged. The 40 A330neos and 30 A350s that we are ordering today will complement Emirates’ fleet mix, support our network growth, and give us more flexibility to better serve seasonal or opportunistic demand. Both the A330neos and A350s will play an important role in our future fleet and network plans.”
The A330neos will be deployed on Emirates’ regional destinations and also enable the airline to serve smaller airports and thereby open new routes and connectivity for its global network. The A350s will supplement Emirates’ long-haul operations, providing the carrier added flexibility in terms of capacity deployment on eight to 12 hour missions from its Dubai hub.
Emirates has also ordered Trent 7000 engines from Rolls-Royce to power 40 Airbus A330neo aircraft, which includes Rolls-Royce’s TotalCare long term service support. Emirates has also ordered 30 Airbus A350 aircraft, powered by the Trent XWB, also to be covered by TotalCare. Both engine types are the sole powerplant for their respective aircraft.
Under an agreement reached with Emirates, Rolls-Royce will also provide Trent 900 engines for a further 14 Airbus A380s, taking the total Emirates A380 fleet powered by Trent 900 engines to 33 aircraft. This agreement supersedes previous deals with Emirates for a total of 52 A380 aircraft powered by the Trent 900.
Chris Cholerton, Rolls-Royce, President – Civil Aerospace, said: “We welcome the news that Emirates is further extending its relationship with Airbus and Rolls-Royce. The addition of Airbus A330-900 and Airbus A350-900 aircraft to the Emirates fleet will make the airline one of the largest users of Trent engines in the world and we look forward to continuing to support them and their customers.”
Rolls-Royce will also provide engines for the 17 remaining Trent 900-powered Airbus A380s to be delivered to customers including Emirates and support the entire Trent 900 fleet in service throughout its lifetime.
Chris Cholerton added: “The A380 is a world class feat of engineering, much loved by passengers, and we are obviously saddened that deliveries will come to an end. We are very proud to have supported the aircraft with our Trent 900 engine. We look forward to supporting the fleet, as the A380 continues to delight travellers, for many years to come.”
ADS Chief Economist Jeegar Kakkad said: “The A380 is an iconic aircraft and today’s announcement is a sad day for those who have worked on this landmark programme.
“Designing, developing and building the world’s largest passenger aircraft is a great achievement and more than 230 A380s have been delivered to customers around the world.
“The 70 new orders placed by Emirates for A330 and A350 widebody aircraft are welcome. Modern, technologically advanced and fuel efficient aircraft are in strong demand from customers around the world and the UK can benefit from the rising prosperity created by this high value industry if we continue to focus on further boosting our competitiveness.”