Airbus admits lack of orders could spell the end for the A380 superjumbo

Planemaker employs 6,000 people at Deeside wing-making factory and says it needs at least six A380 orders every year for eight to 10 years for it the model to survive. Tony McDonough reports

Airbus A380
The Airbus A380 is the biggest passenger aircraft in the world – but its future is now in doubt


Planemaker Airbus has admitted it is on the brink of scrapping production of the A380 superjumbo – the world’s largest passenger plane.

Wings for the giant aircraft are produced at the company’s huge factory at Broughton in Deeside, which employs around 6,000 people. Wings for other models are also made at the plant.

When it was launched in 2005 it was hailed as the future of air travel and consigned the iconic 747 jumbo jet, produced by Airbus’s bitter rival Boeing, to the scrapheap.

However, only 222 of  the $(US)440m aircraft have been sold since then and, even more worryingly, there has not been a single sale in the last two years.

Airbus was hoping airline Emirates would place an $16bn order for 36 A380s last November. It had purchased 50 A380s in 2013. But the Middle East carrier said it was buying 40 Boeing 787 Dreamliners instead.

Now Airbus sales director John Leahy said the company would need a minimum of six orders a year for the next eight to 10 years and that, realistically, that would probably have to come from Emirates, with whom it is currently in talks.

“If we can’t work out a deal with Emirates there is no choice but to shut down the programme,” Mr Leahy admitted.

The aircraft is a double-deck, wide-body four-engine airliner and offers 40% more space than that next largest model and can seat more than 850 passengers in an all-economy class configuration.

As well as the 11,000 people employed directly by Airbus in the UK, there are tens of thousands more in the wider aviation supply chain. Rolls Royce, which employs 22,000 people in Britain, produces the Trent engines used in the A380.

Workers at the Airbus plant at Broughton in Deeside, which employs many people in the Liverpool city region, produces wings other aircraft such as the A350.

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